Turkish PM: Troops 30 km inside Iraq, could move on Kurdish stronghold

Turkish forces are stationed 30 km inside northern Iraq and could advance further to target Kurdish PKK militants in their Qandil Mountains stronghold, Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Friday. (AFP)
Updated 08 June 2018

Turkish PM: Troops 30 km inside Iraq, could move on Kurdish stronghold

  • Yildrim accused the PKK of carrying out "provocations and traps", and long-distance attacks, and said Turkey would "of course go further" if such actions continued.
  • Turkey already carries out regular cross-border air strikes against the PKK in northern Iraq.

KARS, Turkey: Turkish forces are stationed 30 km inside northern Iraq and could advance further to target Kurdish PKK militants in their Qandil Mountains stronghold, Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Friday.
Stepping up Turkish warnings about expanding its military presence in Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq, Yildirim told Reuters that Ankara would not hesitate to escalate an offensive against militants across its southern border.
The prospect of a major military operation comes less than three months after Turkish forces drove Kurdish fighters from the Syrian border region of Afrin. Turkey says that Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) bases in north Iraq are next in its sights, despite protests from the central government in Baghdad.
"Our forces have now been positioned some 30 km into northern Iraq, working to prevent infiltrations and terror activities there," Yildirim said in an interview on his plane as he campaigned for June 24 elections in eastern Turkey.
Accusing the PKK of carrying out "provocations and traps", and long-distance attacks, he said Turkey would "of course go further" if such actions continued. "We will show no hesitation here until these elements are neutralised," he said.
"Every option (on Qandil) is on the table," he added.
Turkey already carries out regular cross-border air strikes against the PKK in northern Iraq. On Friday, the military said warplanes had struck shelters and weapons stations in Qandil and other areas.
On Thursday night, President Tayyip Erdogan said if Iraq did not clear the region of PKK militants, Turkey would strike Qandil and the Sinjar area further west where it says the PKK is also concentrated.
 


Palestinian impatience threatens Gaza cease-fire

Palestinian men prepare an object to be flown toward Israel as part of their protest, near the Israel-Gaza border east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 20 January 2020

Palestinian impatience threatens Gaza cease-fire

  • There is no official announcement from the Palestinian factions about renewed hostilities

GAZA CITY: The launch of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory could mark the resumption of hostilities after some Palestinians expressed frustration at the lack of results from the temporary agreement with Israel.

There was no official announcement from the Palestinian factions about renewed hostilities, and Talal Abu Zarifa, a member of the Committee for the Return March, described them as “individual actions.”
Egypt had brokered a short-term agreement between Hamas and Israel in October 2018 to ease Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and provide concessions in exchange for easing demonstrations on the border.
These included increasing the fishing zone in the Gaza Sea, allowing an increase in exports of products from the Gaza Strip, and the import of some materials that Israel had banned.
Media reports spoke of additional talks recently in Cairo to reach a long-term agreement between Hamas and Israel, which had been unsuccessful.
Bassem Naim, a Hamas leader, said the discussions were about extending the duration of the arrangement for an additional six months, as the previous timetable ended in December.
“The talk about a long-term agreement is only media gossip. The talks were centered on extending the duration of the previous understandings. There is no progress in the Israeli implementation of what has been agreed upon so far,” Naim said.
He added “Israel always make elections as excuse to prolong the period of understandings without improving them.”
The October 2018 agreement talked of two phases. The first was to provide specific facilities for the Gaza Strip, and the second was to begin after the formation of the Israeli government over a long-term truce that would include a prisoner exchange deal.
Political science professor Mokhamar Abu Saada believes that the tension on the Gaza border is over the slow implementation of the agreement.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Egypt had brokered a short-term agreement between Hamas and Israel in October 2018 to ease Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and provide concessions in exchange for easing demonstrations on the border.

• A Hamas leader said there is a tension in the relationship between Egypt and Hamas as a result of Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran.

“We have noticed in the previous Israeli election period that there was an escalation as Hamas and factions tried to obtain more Israeli facilities. It was a way to pressure the Israeli government as it knew that the Israeli reaction would be limited in this period,” Abu Saada told Arab News.
“Netanyahu cannot at this stage reach a long-term agreement with Hamas because of the Israeli elections, because all he wants is to keep the Gaza Strip calm without tension, but he has no ability to offer much,” he added.
Press reports talk of a tension between Hamas and Egypt that led to the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip. Taher Al-Nounou, media adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, denied this.
He said in a press statement: “The head of Hamas attaches special importance to this firm and growing relationship (with Egypt), as Egypt has from its geographical position a central role in the path of the Palestinian issue.”
Egypt allowed Haniyeh to travel on a foreign tour at the end of last year for the first time since he became head of Hamas in 2017.
A Hamas leader who declined to be identified said that there is a tension in the relationship between Egypt and Hamas as a result of Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran to participate in the funeral of Qassem Soleimani.
“Hamas promised Egypt that Haniyeh would not visit Tehran but after the assassination of Soleimani there was a necessity to do so, which angered Egypt and increased tension,” he said.
Haniyeh’s presence at the funeral sparked a debate in Palestinian circles about Hamas’s position on Iran, and on Soleimani specifically.