Iraq denies liaising with Turkey in attacks on Kurdish fighters

Turkish president claimed Baghdad supports Ankara's military offensive in northern Iraq against PKK

Turkey says it hit PKK targets in northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Reuters
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Baghdad has denied co-ordinating with Turkey in operations by Turkish forces against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq this week.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Baghdad had supported Ankara’s latest offensive on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group by Turkey and its western allies.

“There is no truth to Ankara’s claim that it co-ordinated with Baghdad in its military operations in the north,” said Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Al Sahaf.

Iraq considers the Turkish military operations a “blatant violation of its sovereignty and a threat to its territorial integrity” because of “the horror and harm that the operations have left on our citizens”, Mr Al Sahaf said.

The Iraqi official said his government has renewed its demand for the withdrawal of all Turkish forces from its land.

“We have summoned the Turkish ambassador and handed him a strongly worded protest note describing the military operations as unilateral, hostile and provocative,” Mr Al Sahaf said.

Baghdad has repeatedly said the presence of Turkish troops in the country was a “blatant breach of the UN charter” and unauthorised by the government.

On Monday, Turkey announced that its aircraft, artillery and troops had attacked PKK headquarters, shelters, camps and ammunition stores across the border in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

Military personnel board a helicopter in this still image taken from a handout video at an unknown location released on April 18. Turkish Defence Ministry/Reuters

The military operation — named Operation Claw Lock — was part of a long-running Turkish campaign in Iraq and Syria against militants of the PKK and Syrian Kurdish YPG.

Mr Erdogan told a parliamentary meeting of his ruling party that both Baghdad and leaders of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region based in Erbil supported Turkey’s ground and air assault.

“I thank the central government in Iraq and the regional administration for their support to our fight against terror,” he said.

“I wish success for our heroic soldiers involved in this operation, which we are carrying out in close co-operation with the central Iraqi government and the regional administration in northern Iraq.”

Updated: April 21, 2022, 1:39 PM