The Turkish military said in a statement that the Iraqi army will join the military drills at the border, which have been ongoing since last week.

Turkish and Iraqi soldiers pose with their national flags at an airport in Sirnak province, Turkey.
Turkish and Iraqi soldiers pose with their national flags at an airport in Sirnak province, Turkey. (AA)

Turkey and Iraq will launch major military manoeuvres on the common border on Tuesday following a controversial referendum in northern Iraq, the Turkish military announced.

Turkey started its military manoeuvers in southeastern Silopi region on Sept 18, a week ahead of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government's referendum on independence from Iraq.

Monday's referendum included a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad.

Along with Baghdad, Turkey, the US, Iran and the UN have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.

In a brief statement on its official website, the Turkish General Staff said the third phase of the military exercise will start on Tuesday jointly with the Iraqi military in the Habur border gate, also known as Ibrahim Khalil border crossing, on the Turkish-Iraqi border in Silopi district of Sirnak province.

The Habur border crossing, which sits to the north of the Syrian and Iraqi borders, provides the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq with its main access point to the outside world.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that Ankara would intervene militarily if the Turkmen population in Iraq was targeted.

Mevult Cavusoglu made the comment in an interview with broadcaster A Haber.

Ankara sees itself as a protector of Iraq's Turkmen ethnic minority, with a particular focus on the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Cross-border operations

The Turkish parliament also held an emergency meeting Saturday and extended the mandate that allows military operations in neighbouring Syria and Iraq. to Oct 30, 2018.

The mandate was first approved by parliament in October 2014 and has been renewed every year, allowing military action in Turkey's two southern neighbours against Daesh terrorists and other groups deemed by Ankara to be terrorist organisations.

Across the Syrian frontier from Silopi lies territory controlled by the PKK/PYD. Counter-terrorism operations targeting the PKK on the Turkish side of the border are ongoing, the statement said.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU and US as well as Turkey, although only Turkey has designated the PYD's armed wing, the YPG, as a terror group in Syria, where it is used by the US-led coalition to fight Daesh.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies