Iraq calls Turkey’s incursion a provocation, demands complete withdrawal of troops

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Iraq has demanded that Turkey stop its military operations in the country’s north, where Turkish ground and air forces have begun an offensive against Kurdish rebels.

Iraq calls Turkey’s incursion a provocation, demands complete withdrawal of troops

On Thursday, Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Turkish ambassador Fatih Yildiz and delivered to him a “strongly worded protest note” calling Turkey’s military activity in the region a provocation. Baghdad demanded an immediate withdrawal of Turkish forces, and confirmed it has increased border security.

Ankara launched the so-called ‘Claw-Tiger’ operation on Tuesday in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region. It is being carried out against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has taken up arms against the state in an attempt to gain regional independence, and is designated by Turkey as a “terrorist” group. Both still sporadically engage in armed skirmishes.

The Turkish Defense Ministry has stated that its forces have hit more than 500 targets in the first 36 hours.

The Turkish air force struck PKK targets in northern Iraq on Sunday in a separate raid. Turkey began its sorties into northern Iraq on Sunday, executing a separate aerial raid. Following the bombing, Turkish Special Forces also conducted a ground assault against “terrorist” hideouts. Ankara said the operation is a response to escalated attacks on Turkish army bases.

The Iraqi military immediately issued a statement“deploring the penetration of Iraqi airspace by the Turkish planes” which went as deep as 193km inside Iraqi territory.

Turkey often attacks PKK forces, both in its own southeastern region and in northern Iraq, where the group is primarily based. A ceasefire between the two broke in 2015 and Turkey has been organizing cross-border operations into Syria, where Kurds also live.

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