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Iraq slams Turkey’s Kurdistan offensive as threat to national security, summons Ankara’s envoy

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 patrol a road near Cukurca in the Hakkari province, southeastern Turkey, near the Turkish-Iraqi border. (File photo by Reuters)

The Iraqi presidency says the recent cross-border Turkish military operation in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region is a “violation” of the country’s sovereignty and a “threat to its national security.”

“The repetition of Turkish military operations inside the Iraqi borders in the Kurdistan Region, without coordinating with the Iraqi federal government, despite previous calls to stop them [the operations] … is unacceptable,” read a statement published by the Iraqi presidency under the name of a spokesperson.

“Unilateral security practices in addressing outstanding security issues are unacceptable, and Iraqi sovereignty must be respected,” the statement added.

The spokesman reiterated that Iraq's foreign policy is based on refusing to allow its land to become “a field of conflict and an arena for the matters of others." Iraq, he added, does not also consent to encroachments on its sovereignty and threats to its security and internal stability.

Iraq will never turn into a point where “aggression and threat” are initiated against its neighboring countries, he said.

Turkey launched a new cross-border military operation against the purported positions of Kurdish militants in northern Iraq on Monday.

The offensive, dubbed “Operation Claw Lock”, focused on the regions of Metina, Zap, and Avashin-Basyan in northern Iraq.

Ankara claimed that the offensive was aimed to “prevent terror attacks” and ensure border security following an assessment that the PKK was planning a large-scale assault.

Iraq summons Turkish envoy to protest Kurdistan offensive

Iraq on Tuesday summoned Turkey's Ambassador to Baghdad Ali Riza Guney to lodge a protest against the offensive, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry added that the Turkish envoy was handed a “firmly-worded note of protest” urging its northern neighbor to “put an end to acts of provocation and unacceptable violations.”

“The Iraqi government renews its call for the withdrawal of all Turkish forces from Iraqi territories in a manner that reflects binding respect for national sovereignty,” the statement said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Sahaf asserted that Baghdad rejects the Turkish military operations as illegal.

“Iraq considers this action a violation of its sovereignty and sanctity, as it is an act that violates international covenants and laws that regulate relations between countries,” al-Sahaf said in a statement published by the Iraqi News Agency (INA).

PKK militants — designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union — regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.

In response, the Turkish military has occupied areas in northern Iraq, where it regularly carries out military operations against purported PKK positions without the Arab country’s consent.

The Iraqi government and the Arab country’s resistance groups have repeatedly warned Turkey of the consequences of its incursions into their country.


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