New phase in operation on PKK in Iraq begins: Turkish minister

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Turkey has moved into a new phase in holding a major operation on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Part (PKK) in northern Iraq’s Kandil, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli has said.

“Fortification has reached a certain level in base areas,” he told Anadolu Agency on June 12, referring to the temporary bases in the neighboring country.

“Now we have a different target, which is totally removing terrorism here,” he said.

“We will stay in northern Iraq,” he said in a roundtable meeting, implying that Turkish forces will not come back until the mission in completed.

The minister also also said Turkey was in full agreement with Baghdad on the operation.

He said aid Turkey had offered to carry out a potential operation into Qandil with Iran, who has voiced support for the offensive.

Turkey is working with the United States, Iraq, and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for the northern Iraq operation, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlusaid on June 5, stressing the necessity of “joint action” against the group.

“There will be a four-way cooperation between Turkey, the U.S., Baghdad and Arbil [in the fight against the PKK]. Because the PKK is also the enemy of Arbil,”

Arbil is the capital of the autonomus KRG.

Çavuşoğlu’s statemens came one day after he met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.

Turkey launched military operations to eliminate the PKK in northern Iraq, targeting the Kandil Mountain and the Sinjar province of the country, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan 11.

The military said on June 12 that warplanes struck 12 PKK targets in cross-border raids in northern Iraq.

The military said jets overnight hit shelters, weapon positions and ammunition depots used by the PKK in northern Iraq’s Hakurk, Avasin-Basyan and Kandil regions.

New phase in operation on PKK in Iraq begins: Turkish minister

Accompanied by force commanders, Turkish Chief of Staff Gen Hulusi Akar personally inspected the operation, Anadolu said.

“This time we are determined to end up all terrorists organizations,” Akar said in a statement.

Canikli denied that Turkey’s operations against Kandil were aimed at stoking nationalist sentiment ahead of the country’s June 24 elections.

On June 7, Erdoğan said the Mahmur camp in the Arbil governorate could be another target.

“I am announcing this for the first time. Mahmur is very important. If the United Nations cannot solve this problem, we will strike Mahmur,” he said, describing the camp as a “breeding ground for terrorists.”

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