Turkey and Iran will carry out a joint operation against Kurdish rebels, Ankara’s interior minister has said, without specifying when or where the proposed offensive would take place.
Turkey has battled the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) for decades, while Iranian security forces have fought its affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). Turkey and many of its Western allies have listed the PKK as a “terrorist” group. Both groups have bases in neighbouring Iraq.
“God willing, we will carry out a joint operation against the PKK together with Iran,” Suleyman Soylu was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu agency on Wednesday.
Soylu did not state which PKK bases the planned operation would target or when it will take place.
Al Jazeera did not receive a response to Soylu’s comments from the Iranian authorities.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously said a joint Turkish-Iranian operation against Kurdish fighters was “always on the agenda”, and that the proposed offensive would target the fighters’ hideouts in Iraq.
In 2017, Erdogan said the two countries’ military chiefs discussed how to work against the Kurdish fighters, but Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps denied that at the time.
The PKK has waged a three-and-a-half decade violent campaign seeking independence from the Turkish state, a conflict that has left tens of thousands dead.
More recently, it sought more autonomy for Turkey’s Kurdish minority.
The Turkish military has often bombed PKK bases in Iraq’s mountainous regions.
Despite backing opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, both neighbours, who see themselves as historically powerful regional leaders, have recently been working with Russia towards a political solution to the crisis.
Turkey backs moderate Syrian rebels in the conflict while Russia and Iran are the Syrian government’s principal foreign allies.
Ankara has conducted two military operations in Syria in the past three years targeting the Syrian Protection Units (YPG) fighters and its political wing, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which it considers “terrorist groups” with ties to the PKK.