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Abadi vows to defend Iraq from cross-border attacks
March 28, 2018
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BAGHDAD: Iraqi armed forces will prevent Kurdish militants based in northern Iraq from staging cross-border attacks against Turkey, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi said on Tuesday.

Abadi’s pledge, made during a phone call with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, came a day after Ankara threatened to intervene directly if the Iraqi operation against the militants based in the Sinjar region failed.

Abadi said that he has ordered the military to take full control of the country’s borders.

“Iraqi security forces have been instructed not to allow the presence of foreign fighters in the border region,” Abadi’s office quoted him as telling Yildirim in their conversation.

The chief of Iraq’s military General Staff, Lieutenant General Othman Al Ghanmi, echoed that message during an inspection tour on Tuesday of troops deployed in Sinjar, the state-run news website Iraqi Media Network reported.

“The Iraqi army is in full control of Sinjar and the border strip with Turkey,” it quoted him as saying.

Erdogan said Turkey would do “what is necessary” if the Iraqi operation failed, raising the prospect of a possible direct Turkish military operation.

Turkish forces are currently waging a full-scale military operation in the Afrin region of northern Syria against the US-allied YPG Kurdish militia that Ankara says has close ties to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Turkey has long complained that fighters of the outlawed PKK are being given free rein to operate out of Sinjar against Turkish targets.

On Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s intelligence chief would meet an Iraqi official to discuss the Iraqi military operation in Sinjar.

Erdogan later said that if the PKK fighters do not vacate Iraqi regions of Sinjar and Qandil, it would be “inevitable” for Ankara to remove them.

The PKK, which is classified as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union as well as by Turkey, has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state for decades.

It has been based in Iraq’s Qandil mountains near the border with Iran for decades.

Sources in northern Iraq said last Friday the PKK would withdraw from Sinjar, where it gained a foothold in 2014 after coming to the aid of the Yazidi minority community, who were under attack by Daesh militants.


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