Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country’s intelligence chief is set to meet an Iraqi official to discuss an Iraqi military operation in the northern Sinjar region, where Ankara says Kurdish fighters have established a base.
Erdogan said on Monday that he was told by the Turkish intelligence that Iraq’s central government were involved with a military operation in Sinjar, a region situated on the Turkish-Iraqi border.
He affirmed the reports that Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members, seen by Ankara as ‘terrorists’, were withdrawing from Sinjar and Iraqi troops were being deployed to the region.
“We hope that the Iraqi central government will carry out this operation in Sinjar properly,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey will do “what is necessary” if the Iraqi government’s operation failed.
He added that Ankara was following the developments on the field regarding the operation in question.
Erdogan announced that Turkey’s intelligence chief is to meet an Iraqi official, who is scheduled to arrive in Turkey on Monday, over the Sinjar issue.
The president’s statement came during a news conference held in the face of his visit to the Bulgarian city of Varna to attend the EU-Turkey summit.
PKK announces withdrawal
A PKK-linked group, quoted by the Kurdish Iraqi media, last week announced the withdrawal of the PKK fighters from Sinjar, saying that the Yazidi minority there did not face a security threat any more.
The announcement follows Turkey’s ultimatum that it will carry out a military operation against the PKK fighters if they do not withdraw from Sinjar.
The PKK says it entered Sinjar in 2014 to help defend the Yazidi people against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
The armed group has waged a decades-long armed fight against the Turkish state that has killed tens of thousands of people.