Turkey makes move against Kurd rebels


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that a joint Turkish-Iranian operation against Kurdish militants was “always on the agenda”, a week after Tehran’s top armed forces commander visited Ankara for rare talks.
Turkey has battled the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for decades, while the Iranian security forces have also fought its affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). Both groups have rear bases in neighboring Iraq.
“It is always on the agenda to carry out a joint operation with Iran against those terror organizations which pose a threat,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul before a trip to Jordan.
His comments came after Iran’s Armed Forces chief of staff General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri visited Turkey last week, with the two sides discussing ways to cooperate against the militants.
During the visit, Iran made a “surprise proposal” to Ankara to launch a joint operation against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq’s Kandil and Sinjar regions, the Turkish newspaper Turkiye reported on its front page on Monday.
The newspaper claimed the proposal sparked surprise in Ankara because Turkish officials had long complained that Tehran had left Turkey alone in its fight against the PKK’s cadres, financial structuring and political activities.
The PKK is designated as a terror group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.
Turkey has already begun building a “security wall” along part of its border with Iran, regional officials said this month, along the lines of a similar barrier on the Syrian border. Bagheri added that both sides were also united in opposition to a plan by the leadership in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region to hold a referendum on independence on September 25.
Such geographical changes “could provoke tensions and clashes inside Iraq and would not be limited to that country,” Bagheri added. Widely seen as the world’s largest stateless people, most Kurds are spread between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. But it is only in Iraq where they have achieved a recognized autonomy.


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