Turkey may launch a ground operation in Iraq if it perceives any threat by developments there, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.
Iraqi government forces, Kurdish Peshmerga and international coalition led by the United States are carrying out an operation to liberate Iraqi city of Mosul from Daesh terrorists. The city’s future is uncertain and Turkey is concerned that the PKK could take advantage of the security vacuum and use northern parts of Iraq, including Mosul and Sinjar, as bases.
The group has already bases in the Qandil mountains, just south of Turkey's border. Turkey has accused the PKK of wanting to make Sinjar a “second Qandil.”
"If there is a threat posed to Turkey, we are ready to use all our resources including a ground operation to eliminate that threat," Cavusoglu said in an interview with a local TV broadcaster. "It is our most natural right under international law."
Turkey is taking part in the Mosul operation, a move backed by the US and the autonomous Iraqi regional government (KRG). However, the Iraqi central government in Baghdad has rejected Turkey’s participation.
Ties between the two neighbours have been strained due to Turkey’s military base located in Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul, where Turkish troops train Peshmerga and other local forces in the fight against Daesh.
Iraq accuses Turkey of violating its territory but Turkey argues that it had prior permission from both Baghdad and the KRG.