Iraq demands halt to Turkish attacks in Kurdistan region, denies cooperating with offensive

Turkey, a NATO member, began its land and air invasion inside northern Iraq on April 17. It is targeting the forces of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Syrian YPG militia

April 21, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Protests in Europe against the Turkish invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo: Rojnews

The Iraqi foreign ministry demanded an immediate halt to the Turkish invasion inside its territories that was launched on Sunday. In a statement on Wednesday, April 20, it termed it a “violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”

The statement refuted Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s claim made earlier on Wednesday that its operations against alleged terrorists were being carried out with the cooperation of Iraqi and regional Kurdish governments.

In a statement issued on its social media platform on Wednesday, April 20, the Kurdish Peshmerga also denied that it had supported or even participated in the Turkish operation, calling all such claims “irresponsible allegations.”

The Iraqi foreign ministry also declared that it had delivered a note to Turkey’s ambassador in the country on Tuesday in which Turkish operations were called “provocative and unacceptable.”

On Sunday, Turkey launched a fresh air and land incursion inside the Zap, Metina and Avasin-Basyan regions of Erbil and Duhok provinces of northern Iraq or Iraqi Kurdistan, allegedly against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Syrian YPG militia. Turkey’s defense minister Hulusi Akar had claimed on Monday that ‘Operation Claw Lock’ was started to prevent PKK from carrying out its planned large-scale attacks inside Turkey.

The invasion has left thousands displaced. The bombings carried out by the Turkish air force have caused massive destruction of civilian infrastructure in the region as well.

The PKK and its armed wing Peoples Defense Forces (HPG) have been fighting for the rights of Kurdish minorities in Turkey for decades. They have banned as “terrorist organizations” in Turkey, the US and some other western countries.

Alleging that PKK fighters are taking shelter in Iraqi Kurdistan and northeastern Syria, Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), often carries out military raids in these two countries. It claims the right to defense as per the chapter seven of the UN charter.

A spokesperson of the Iraqi foreign ministry Ahmed al-Sahaf said on Wednesday that the Turkish claims about Iraqi cooperation are false and the airstrikes inside Iraq were a “hostile and unilateral” act. Iraq has the right to respond at bilateral and multilateral levels against these acts, he said.

“The Iraqi foreign ministry considered the military operations in the Iraqi territory a blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and a threat to its territorial integrity, due to the horror and harm that the operations left for the security of Iraqi citizens,” he added.

Various leaders in Iraq also issued statements condemning Turkey’s invasion. President Barham Salih, leader of the largest parliamentary block, Muqtada al-Sadr, and former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, among others, called the Turkish invasion a threat to Iraq’s national security and emphasized the need for a negotiated settlement of issues.

The invading Turkish forces claimed on Wednesday that they have “neutralized” 30 fighters from the PKK in three days of the operation.  Turkey also claimed that two of its soldiers had died during the operation so far.

However, on Thursday, the HPG claimed that it had killed at least 47 Turkish soldiers until Wednesday in various guerrilla operations inside Iraq.