Turkey to plan cross-border operation into Northern Iraq

Turkish media reports say that Turkey plans to make cross-border operation into Northern Iraq against outlawed PKK camps and militants following attacks by group throughout country

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Updated Aug 8, 2015

Turkish media reports have said Turkish government is planning to make a large-scale cross-border operation into Northern Iraq against the outlawed PKK camps and militants following the numerous attacks carried out by the group throughout the country.

The media reports which have allegedly been based on Turkish military sources have stated that Turkey targets to remove PKK terrorists from Northern Iraq entirely as well as ISIS militants from northern Syria following its recent tightened security measures taken at Syrian border.

Both PKK and ISIS are recognised as terrorist organisations by Turkey, the US, and the EU.

It has recently been announced that Turkey and the US have agreed the Incirlik air base, located 100 km (60 miles) from northwest Syrian border in southern region of the country, and Turkish airfield to be used by the US-led coalition forces for air strikes against ISIS in order to execute a joint action plan for northern Syrian issues.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has also declared a “comprehensive battle” against ISIS will start soon following the Incirlik deal during a trip to Malaysia on Aug. 4.

Turkish media reports have stated that Turkish security forces will first destroy PKK targets in Turkey according to the Turkish military planning. Then, the military will in a large-scale operation move against the main PKK camps of Hakurk, Avashin and Qandil which is the headquarter of the group in Northern Iraq.

According to the Turkey-Iraq Border Treaty signed in 1946, Turkey has a right to hot pursuit of the armed attacks coming from the Iraqi territory at a depth of 15 kilometres (10 miles) as the Iraqi government has also been entitled with the same rights for Turkish territory.

The media reports have also claimed that about 1,500 PKK terrorists have run away from Northern Iraq into the region of Jazira in northern Syria. The Jazira region is also a Democratic Union Party (PYD)-controlled Kurdish “canton” in northern Syria.

Turkey considers the PYD as PKK’s Syrian affiliate and it has issued several warnings against the group after the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the militant wing of the PYD claimed Tal Abyad from ISIS in northern Syria. The group was able to join the Kurdish Kobani and the Jazira “cantons,” by capturing the district and now is controlling a good part of the Syrian border to Turkey.  

The media reports say Turkish military can make a cross-border operation in Northern Iraq possibly next week.

Military sources have said, “The camps of the separatist group including Qandil located in northern Iraq and Syria were destroyed. What was important for us is to cut the logistical support lines of the group. All of the arsenal of the group was destructed by air strikes. Now we turn our attention to destroy its armed and unarmed units inside Turkey,” according to the reports.

“Most of the militants were fled in northern Syria. Our target will be terrorist hideouts of the PKK in Syria by airstrikes and a cross-border operation following internal operations,” the sources added.  

Turkey has recently been targeted with increasing attacks by the ISIS and PKK terrorist groups since a suicide bombing, widely thought to have been carried out by ISIS, in the Suruc district of Turkey’s southeastern Sanliurfa province claimed 33 lives on July 20.

PKK has particularly increased its attacks on both police and the Turkish Armed Forces, and killed several security officers following the Suruc suicide bombing. Twenty-three Turkish security officials have been killed in militant attacks by the PKK and ISIS attacks since the bombing.    

In response to the PKK and ISIS attacks, Turkish security forces have stepped up efforts against the militant groups and launched air strikes in several positions used by PKK and ISIS militants in Northern Iraq and Syria respectively since late July.

Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu visited last week the Kurdish region in Northern Iraq and met with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani, and other notable Kurdish leaders to discuss Turkey’s air strikes against PKK targets in Northern Iraq and the ISIS targets in northern Syria.  

Since the 1980s Turkey has undertaken numerous cross-border operations against PKK camps and hideouts, targeting PKK terrorists in Northern Iraq with the support of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Peshmerga forces and Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Peshmerga forces.

Turkey needs the support of the KRG for air strikes and for a possible cross-border operation against the PKK targets in order to put pressure on the PKK’s leadership following the recent clashes between PKK and the Turkish Army.

KRG President Massoud Barzani called last week for the PKK leadership to leave Northern Iraq in order to avoid civilian casualties.

Barzani’s office released a statement saying that “PKK must withdraw from Iraqi Kurdistan in order to prevent civilian casualties from operations of Turkish jets in the region.”

TRTWorld and agencies