Turkey Rebuffs Iraq Criticism Over Cross-Border Attacks on Kurds

Turkey rebuffed Iraqi criticism of its cross-border attacks on autonomy-seeking Kurdish militants, which Baghdad says killed two of its military officers this week.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement didn’t refer to Iraq’s claim of a Turkish drone attack near their shared border, but told Baghdad it was responsible for taking measures against Kurdish separatists based in northern Iraq.

Turkey’s military has carried out numerous incursions and airstrikes against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has used northern Iraq as a springboard in its decades-long war for autonomy in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast. But it hasn’t confirmed or denied carrying out the Aug. 11 drone attack.

“Our country is ready for cooperation with Iraq on this issue,” the Foreign Ministry said. “But if the PKK presence in Iraq continues to be ignored, then we are determined to take any step anywhere for our border security.” The group is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union.

The Turkish military ratcheted up its campaign against the PKK and affiliated Kurdish forces in Syria after the latter won U.S. backing for leading the campaign to defeat Islamic State. Last year, Turkey reached separate agreements with the U.S. and Russia to keep Kurdish fighters in Syria away from its border.

The struggle with Kurdish separatists has left tens of thousands dead since 1984 and stained Turkey’s human rights record.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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