Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said yesterday the PKK terrorist group uses northern Iraq to attack Turkey. In statements following a cabinet meeting, Barzani said he wants to visit Turkey to improve relations that deteriorated after the KRG independence referendum. Daily Sabah reports in its article Barzani blames PKK for using northern Iraq to attack Turkey that in a phone call he congratulated President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his victory in the June 24 presidential election.
Answering a question about Turkish military operations inside KRG territory, Barzani stressed that the reason for the operations should be well-known to everyone. "The PKK uses KRG land it occupies as a base to attack Turkey," Barzani said. He asserted, "We never accept the use of our land to attack Turkey and Iran."
Since March, Turkey has intensified operations against the terrorist PKK in northern Iraq, particularly in the Qandil mountains where the group's headquarters are located.
Ankara has said that it has communicated with Iraqi counterparts in Baghdad about its operation. The Qandil mountains, located roughly 40 kilometers southeast of the Turkish border in Iraq's Irbil province, are used as headquarters for the PKK and its Iranian affiliate, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), despite the area being under the de jure control of the KRG.
The Iraqi army launched an offensive to retake the disputed territories that had come under KRG control in 2014 as a response to the independence referendum held on Sept. 25, 2017, by the semi-autonomous KRG.
U.S. senator visits Iraq, praises Turkey's role in regionU.S. Senator Lindsey Graham on Wednesday said armed militias constituted a "challenge" to Iraq's incoming government, while praising Ankara's role in contributing to regional stability.
Speaking at a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Graham said the Daesh terrorist group could only be decisively defeated by "a strong [Iraqi] economy and educational system." He stressed the difficulties associated with defeating the terrorist group without a U.S. military presence in Iraq and Syria. Nevertheless, Graham went on to assert that Iraq's security situation had "greatly improved" in recent months. Commenting on the U.S. military presence in Syria, the Republican senator added: "We have spoken to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about Turkey's concerns regarding our presence in Syria. He added that Turkey "can serve as a force for stability in the region."
Graham added that the "major challenge" to Iraq's next government would be how to deal with the many armed groups currently operating in the country and how to incorporate them into the Iraqi Armed Forces.