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Iraq vows to prevent cross-border attacks on Turkey

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (L) and his Iraqi counterpart, Haider al-Abadi, pose for a photo before their talks during the Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 17, 2018. (Photo by AP )

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Baghdad will not allow cross-border attacks on Turkey days after Ankara said it had launched a military campaign against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

Abadi told his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildirim, during a phone conversation on Monday that Iraqi armed forces had instructions to prevent “foreign fighters” from launching cross-border attacks on Turkey.

The two officials also agreed on taking necessary measures against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and discussed cooperation in the fields of energy and the economy, according to a statement by the Turkish Prime Ministry’s press office.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced on Sunday the beginning of operations in Iraq’s Sinjar region against the PKK, adding, “The fight is internal and external.”

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, however, denied that any foreign forces had crossed the border into the Arab country and said the situation in Sinjar was under the control of Iraqi security forces.

In this file photo, a group of militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) enter northern Iraq in the Heror area, northeast of Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad. (By AP)

Turkey has banned the PKK as a terrorist organization. The militant group has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984. The three-decade conflict has left more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, dead.

The PKK gained a foothold in Sinjar in 2014 after coming to the aid of the Izadi minority community, who were targeted by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

The Sinjar operations came after Turkish military said it had established full control over Syria’s northwestern Afrin region following more than two months of battles with the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as the Syrian branch of the PKK.

A shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 was declared null and void by the militants in 2015 in the wake of a large-scale Turkish military campaign against the group. 

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