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Iraqi parliament committee rejects direct negotiations with Turkey amid PKK operation

The file photo shows Turkish soldiers conducting a military drill near the border with Iraq on September 29, 2017. (By Anadolu news agency)

The security and defense committee of Iraq’s parliament has rejected direct negotiations with Turkey over an ongoing cross-border operation in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region against the hideouts of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“Turkey’s persistence to violate Iraq’s sovereignty compels us to reject initiatives to sit with them at the negotiating table,” the Arabic-language Iraqi Media News Agency quoted the head of the committee, Mohammad Reza al-Haider, as saying on Sunday.

“For any dialogue to begin, Turkey must initially withdraw its forces from the border regions it is currently occupying, especially as Iraq does not allow its territory to be used as a launching pad for attacks on neighboring countries, as stipulated in the Constitution.”

Haider also called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) or the Arab League, without taking into account international conventions that hinge upon the principle of good neighborliness.

Another Iraqi legislator, Katah Najman al-Rikabi, also called on Baghdad “to confront the Turkish acts of aggression through diplomatic means, such as submitting a lawsuit to the UN Security Council or the United Nations to stop them.”

“It is wrong to sit at the negotiating table with Turkey, because dialogue means that there is a problem between the two sides. What happened between Turkey and Iraq is an instance of aggression by one party against another, and it can only be stopped by means of deterrent measures.”

The Turkish military started its ground campaign, dubbed Claw-Tiger Operation, against the PKK positions in northern Iraq on July 17. Claw-Eagle Operation, the air campaign, had begun two days earlier.

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

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

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