Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani has blamed the Turkish bombing of parts of the Kurdistan Region on the PKK’s cross-border attacks against Turkey, saying the group must stop using Kurdish territories for its armed activities.
Asked about the recent Turkish bombing of Kurdish villages and the Turkish violation of the Kurdistan Region’s borders, PM Barzani told a press conference on Wednesday the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is to blame.
“Why did Turkey violate the border? What is the reason? There should be a reason,” Barzani said.
“There is a reason why this is happening. That reason must first be resolved. So long as this reason is not resolved, you cannot talk about the fallout.”
The PKK, a named terrorist organization by Ankara, is an armed Kurdish group that has staged a decades-long guerilla war against Turkey since 1984. Their main headquarters is in the Qandil mountains on the border strip between Turkey and the Kurdistan Region.
“As the Kurdistan Region, we have a principle. Our principle is that the territories of the Kurdistan Region must in no way be used to attack, to cause violence against our neighbors. This policy as a principle stands the same for Turkey, Iran or Syria,” Barzani said.
“We do not accept, nor do we allow the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to be used to cause violence in those countries.”
The Kurdish premier said his government has tried on many occasions to convince the PKK to stop attacking Turkey from within the Kurdistan Region, but that such efforts “unfortunately” failed.
“It is not acceptable for the PKK to launch military operations from the territories of Kurdistan, and then return to the Kurdistan Region,” he said.
Turkish fighter jets last week killed four civilians when they attacked Kurdish villages in Choman, Erbil province. While the PKK is reported to be present in the wider area, the village targeted by Turkey did not have a PKK position, locals said at the time.
The PKK vowed to retaliate against the Turkish bombing.
PM Barzani also said today he “personally” involved in efforts to convince Turkey to open its airspace for international flights to and from Sulaimani International Airport.
Ankara lifted the ban on such flights to Erbil airport last week, months after it imposed the ban on the Kurdish airports last September following the Kurdish vote on independence.
Ankara, however, did not lift the ban for Sulaimani airport as it accused the party in control of the Sulaimani affairs, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), of “direct coordination” with the PKK.
The PUK, one of the two ruling parties of the Kurdistan Region, last week strongly condemned the Turkish “aerial terror” against the Kurdistan Region.
The relationship between the two sides, Ankara and the Sulaimani-based PUK, were strained following a PKK counter-intelligence operation that saw two Turkish agents arrested in the city by the PKK last August.
Turkey has threatened a military operation against the PKK in northern Iraq, but says it will only do so when Baghdad agrees to coordinate with the Turkish military. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim understands there is no such coordination at the moment.