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Iraqi president censures Turkish ‘military violation’ of Iraqi soil

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish soldiers in a tank and an armored vehicle patrol on the road to the town of Beytussebab in the southeastern Sirnak province, Turkey, September 28, 2015. (Photo by Reuters)

Iraqi President Barham Salih has censured Turkey’s ongoing cross-border operation in the Arab country’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region against hideouts of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, describing the offensive as a “military violation” of Iraqi soil.

Addressing a number of Arab countries’ ambassadors to Iraq, Salih said Iraq was determined to maintain its sovereignty and “reiterated that Turkey has to suspend its military violations on the Iraqi soil,” according to a statement issued by his office.

The Turkish military launched its ground campaign, dubbed Claw-Tiger Operation, against PKK positions in the Qandil Mountains as well as Sinjar and Makhmur districts of northern Iraq on June 17. Ankara had begun an aerial campaign in Iraq two days earlier.

The PKK militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Turkish ground and air forces frequently carry out operations against PKK positions in the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.

Iraqi top officials, including Salih, have repeatedly called on Ankara to suspend the offensive against the Arab country.

On Saturday, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry summoned Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad Fatih Yildiz to protest attacks by the Turkish forces on Iraqi lands.

The Iraqi cabinet’s spokesman Ahmed Mulla Talal said in a statement on Saturday that Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad Fatih Yildiz had received two official letters of protest, with strong tone, regarding the offensive.

The spokesman warned that his country will use the international law and covenants to establish the right of Iraq to reject and stop these attacks.

Last week, Iraq threatened to cut off its trade ties with Turkey in protest at Ankara’s ongoing cross-border operation.

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