Iraq has announced plans to deploy troops along the border with Turkey in an effort to defend the frontier against any “violations” of its territory and airspace.
In a statement released on Sunday, the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the deployment of border guards is meant “to protect the country’s border areas and to prevent any violations.”
The decision was made during a meeting of the Iraqi Ministerial Council for National Security that focused on “the security and the stability within Iraq and on its border, documenting airspace and land violations, and the federal police’s responsibilities,” according to the statement.
The meeting, chaired by Abadi, also instructed the Foreign Ministry to “take the necessary measures to document the Turkish violations of Iraqi airspace to the United Nations.”
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Ambassador to Baghdad Fatih Yildiz told Yeni Safak daily that the Iraqi premier had during his last visit to Ankara expressed his intent to increase the presence of forces linked to the Interior Ministry along the border.
Over the past years, the Turkish military has repeatedly violated the Iraqi territory and airspace amid its crackdown campaign against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which operates in southern Turkey and runs bases in northeastern Iraq.
Turkey says a military operation against PKK militants in Iraq’s Qandil region is only matter of time.
In late 2015, tensions flared up between Baghdad and Ankara after the latter deployed soldiers and armored vehicles to the Bashiqa military base in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh without Baghdad’s permission under the pretext of training Kurdish Peshmerga fighters amid battles against the Daesh terror group.
Earlier this year, Ankara also admitted that it had carried out operations in Iraq’s Sinjar region against the PKK militants active there.
Turkey regularly conducts airstrikes on positions held by the PKK in northern Iraq.
Ankara claims that it has Iraq’s permission for the anti-PKK operations in Iraq. Baghdad, however, rejects this.
“The Iraqi government will not accept any advance on its land by Turkish forces in pursuit of the PKK elements currently present in the Sinjar, Makhmour and Qandil Mountains,” Saad al- Hadithi, a spokesman for Abadi, said back in June.