Iran, Turkey mulling joint action against PKK
The Iranian military may team up with the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) for an offensive against the PKK terrorist group in Iraq provided that the Iraqi government gives consent. Daily Sabah reports that Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said that Iran and Turkey could take action against the PKK in northern Iraq if the Baghdad government allows it.
Turkey, Iran and Iraq indeed previously took joint action against the terrorist group. In last November, Turkish jets carried out airstrikes on PKK positions in northern Iraq, reportedly coordinated with Iranian and Iraqi intelligence.
Ankara and Tehran have been strengthening relations at a growing pace in Syria. The two countries are part of the Astana process and the Syrian National Dialogue Congress. The presidents of the two countries also met earlier this month in Ankara as a sign of solidarity.
The Turkish government has been signaling an all-around offensive against PKK headquarters in the Qandil Mountains and the Sinjar region in northern Iraq. Previously, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in mid-March that Sinjar would be the next target after Operation Olive Branch, which succeeded in eliminating the PKK's Syrian affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG) from Afrin, Syria.
"Turkey asked the Iraqi government to clean PKK terrorists from northern Iraq and will carry out a cross-border operation there anytime if necessary," Erdoğan said, referring to the terrorist group's headquarters in Sinjar province, which is considered to be the second major camp after Mount Qandil.
Ankara also argues that the Turkish state is entitled to an operation in northern Iraq if the central Iraqi government cannot eradicate a threat that poses concern to Turkey's national security.
Last month, the PKK announced that it withdrew from Sinjar. However, Turkish security and intelligence sources were cited as saying that PKK terrorists are hiding in the town center as civilians and remain ready to take up arms and attack whenever need be.
Anadolu Agency (AA) reporters in the center of Sincar district have said that the information they received from the region suggests that only a few Iraqi army and federal police forces seem to have controlled the center, while the local YBŞ militants affiliated to the PKK continue to carry out their activities in the city as they have camouflaged their weapons.
In mid-2014, the PKK managed to establish a foothold in Sinjar on the pretext that it was protecting the local Yazidi community from Daesh.