Iraq seeks Arab help to push Turkish troops out
August 13, 2020 09:05 PM
Iraq has urged its Arab allies to help persuade Turkey to withdraw its troops from Iraqi territory, where they have been raiding Kurdish militant positions, the foreign ministry said Thursday.
Its comments come two days after a Turkish drone strike killed two high-ranking Iraqi officers in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, amid heightened tensions between Ankara and Baghdad.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) said Thursday that one of its commanders had also been killed in the strike, saying the drone had targeted a meeting between its fighters and Iraqi border guards.
On Wednesday the Iraqi foreign ministry, for the third time, summoned Turkey's envoy to Baghdad to protest against the strike, which it denounced as a "flagrant aggression" and a violation of its sovereignty.
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said he had contacted his Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi and Kuwaiti counterparts as well as the Arab League to seek their diplomatic support in confronting Ankara.
Hussein said he pleaded for "major Arab efforts to avoid dangerous developments" and for "a united position to force Turkey to pull out its troops who have infiltrated into Iraq", the ministry said.
Turkey in mid-June launched a cross-border operation against the PKK, blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies.
The PKK has waged an insurgency against Ankara since 1984 and has long used the rugged terrain of northern Iraq as a rear base to wage attacks on Turkey.
Over the past 25 years Turkey has set up a dozen military positions inside Iraqi territory to fight the PKK.
On Thursday Turkey's ambassador to Baghdad Fatih Yildiz issued a statement accusing Iraq of "turning a blind eye to the presence of PKK terrorists on its soil".
Kurdish sources say efforts to persuade Turkey to withdraw its forces will not be easy, as Ankara is determined to stay put.
Authorities in the autonomous Kurdish region, dominated by the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP), see the PKK as rivals but have never been able to uproot them from their northern Iraqi bases.
At least five civilians have been killed in northern Iraq since the start of the latest Turkish campaign, according to local officials. Ankara has reported the death of two of its soldiers, and the PKK and its allies the deaths of 10 fighters and supporters.