PM Barzani blames PKK for Turkish strikes on Kurdistan Region

 PM Barzani blames PKK for Turkish strikes on Kurdistan Region

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.

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