IraqMiddle EastTurkey

Iraq summons Turkish envoy again to protest military op, demand troop withdrawal

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has once again called in the Turkish ambassador to express its strong protest over a military operation by Turkish forces in the country’s northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, and to demand that Ankara immediately halt its assaults there.

On Thursday, the ministry summoned Fatih Yildiz and handed him a “strongly-worded memorandum calling for a halt to provocative actions,” just days after Turkey said an operation it called “Claw-Eagle” was launched against hideouts of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group in various regions of northern Iraq.

“We stress that Turkey must stop its bombardment and withdraw its attacking forces from Iraqi territory,” the ministry said in the statement.

“We affirm our categorical rejection of these violations,” it added.

It was the second time in a week that Baghdad summoned the Turkish envoy. He was also called to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Tuesday following Turkish bombardment against PKK positions in the mountainous regions of northern Iraq.

After that meeting with Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Abdul- Karim Hashim Mostafa, the Turkish ambassador said Ankara would continue to “fight the PKK wherever it is” if Baghdad did not take actions against the Kurdish militants.

Separately on Thursday, security sources said Turkish Armed Forces had destroyed more than 500 PKK hideouts in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region in the first 36 hours of Operation Claw-Tiger, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, added that Turkish commandos also conducted ground and air operations to target the positions of the Kurdish forces following a string of airstrikes by the country’s F-16 fighter jets.

“Operation Claw-Tiger is going very well. We will continue with the same seriousness and determination and hopefully we will successfully end this operation,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar addressed military commanders of the operation via video link.

PKK militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Turkish ground and air forces frequently carry out operations against PKK positions in the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.

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