Iraq has summoned Turkey’s envoy to Baghdad to protest its defense chief’s visit to a military base in northern Iraq as Turkish troops continue a cross-border offensive against Kurdish fighters there. low.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday that it had given the Turkish charge d’affaires “a note of protest” on “violations of Iraqi sovereignty” by Defense Minister Hulusi Akar’s trip to Turkish facilities.
Akar visited the Turkish base in northern Iraq on Saturday – accompanied by Chief of Staff General Yasar Guler and Turkish ground forces commander Umit Dundar – to oversee military operations against the armed group of the Party of Kurdistan Workers (PKK).
According to the statement quoted by Turkish state news agency Anadolu, the Turkish diplomat was informed that Baghdad “categorically rejects the persistent violations of Iraqi sovereignty … by Turkish military forces”.
Baghdad has protested several times in the past against Turkey’s military operations on its soil.
According to Anadolu, Turkey has told Iraq that its operations and cross-border bases do not constitute a violation of Iraqi sovereignty but an effort to eradicate the rebel group. Turkey also underlined its respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.
The PKK, classified as a “terrorist group” by Ankara and much of the international community, has used the mountains of northern Iraq as a springboard in its decades-long rebellion against the Turkish state.
The Turkish army regularly carries out cross-border incursions and airstrikes against PKK bases in northern Iraq.
Two weeks ago, the Turkish army launched new operations against the PKK in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of northern Iraq. The area of Metina, near the border, is at the center of Operation Claw-Thunderbolt and Operation Claw-Lightning.
In February, Turkey announced that the PKK had executed 13 captives – including Turkish military and police – during operations in northern Iraq where the group was holding them.
The PKK has been waging an armed rebellion against the Turkish state since 1984 that has killed around 40,000 people on both sides.
Over the past two years, Turkey’s struggle against the PKK has increasingly focused on northern Iraq, where the group has its stronghold in the Qandil Mountains on the Iranian border.