World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey’s president said Tuesday that next stages of the recently concluded Operation Euphrates Shield would be broader, including terrorist-held Iraqi territories besides Syria.
Speaking to the local NTV and Star networks, Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Operation Euphrates Shield as the first stage of Turkey's counter-terrorism road map, saying expanded stages would follow.
A future operation will have “not [only] a Syrian dimension, [but] also an Iraqi dimension. There are the Tal Afar and Sinjar situations [in Iraq]. We also have kin in Mosul," he said, referring to Turkmens.
Launched last August and carried out with Free Syrian Army support, Operation Euphrates Shield aimed to improve security, support coalition forces, and eliminate the terror threat along the Turkish border. It ended on March 29.
Erdogan said the situation was worse in Iraq’s Sinjar region, saying the city is about to become the “second Qandil” for the PKK terrorist organization, referring to the PKK’s headquarters in Iraq’s Qandil Mountains.
"There are around 2,500 PKK terrorists in the efforts to create this second Qandil," Erdogan said.
The PKK has sought to establish a foothold in the region in the northeastern mountainous outskirts of the Nineveh province, since ISIL was driven out last year by Peshmerga and local forces with the help of the U.S.-led coalition.
Turkey has also expressed concerns about the PKK’s presence in Sinjar and said it would take measures, including deploying troops, to prevent the terror group from securing a base in the region.
More than 1,200 people, including security force personnel and civilians, have lost their lives since the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- resumed its decades-old armed campaign in July 2015.
Erdogan also warned that the mostly Shia Hashd al-Shaabi terror group in Iraq is acting as an invasion and occupation movement in Iraq.
"When we look at it all, there is a support for Iranian and Persian nationalism based on sects in Iraq. They disseminate it with sectarianism and spread it on the basis of Persian nationalism,” Erdogan said.
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