Turkish tanks deployed to stop PKK, Cavusoglu says

Foreign minister says last week's deployment near Iraqi border was to contain extremists around Sinjar

Turkish tanks deployed to stop PKK, Cavusoglu says

World Bulletin / News Desk

The build-up of tanks and armored vehicles in the border town of Silopi will prevent PKK extremists from securing a base in northern Iraq’s Sinjar region, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday.

Reiterating earlier comments by Turkey’s defense minister and president, Cavusoglu warned that Turkey would not stand by while the PKK expanded their influence across the region.

“We have taken our measures especially against the PKK, which is trying to turn Sinjar, under the guise of protecting Ezidis, into Qandil,” he said, referring to the PKK’s main base on the Iraq-Iran border.

“One of the purposes of sending a certain number of troops and our armed forces lately is this. We will never allow such things. We will not.”

Armored columns headed into Silopi, which lies on the Turkish border with Iraq and Syria, last week.

The operation to liberate Mosul from ISIL has seen the PKK move into Sinjar, an area heavily populated by Ezidis that lies around 110 kilometers (68 miles) west of Mosul and around 100 km (62 miles) southwest of the Turkish border.

The PKK and its Syrian offshoot the PYD are listed as terror groups by Turkey although the U.S. and EU only view the PKK as a extremist organization.

Cavusoglu was speaking at a parliamentary planning and budget commission in capital Ankara.

Last week, Defense Minister Fikri Isik said Turkey was not obliged to wait behind its borders if PKK extremists moved into Sinjar. Previously, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned that the extrem group was already in the area.

Cavusoglu said Ankara had warned the governments in Baghdad and Erbil, capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, as well as coalition officials against allowing a PKK foothold in the region.

“It will be very difficult to manage possible disasters and crisis later on,” he said. “The speakers of the PKK have been making constant statements and talking about involvement in the Mosul operation [and] entering Tal Afar.”

Tal Afar lies between Sinjar and Mosul. It is the route fleeing ISIL extremists are expected to take if they are forced out of Mosul and head to their remaining stronghold Raqqah in Syria.

Turning to the Turkish camp in Bashiqa, to the northeast of Mosul, where troops have trained Kurdish and Iraqi fighters, Cavusoglu said Turkey aimed to “take the camp into coalition and work with Iraq.”

Baghdad has complained that the camp’s existence is an infringement of Iraqi sovereignty.

Last Mod: 09 Kasım 2016, 00:08
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