Iran denies joint raid with Turkey against Kurd rebels

The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan clashed with Iranian forces in ethnically Kurdish areas near the border. (AFP/File)
Updated 19 March 2019

Iran denies joint raid with Turkey against Kurd rebels

  • Minister Suleyman Soylu said the countries were conducting joint operations without specifying location
  • Iran previously carried out operations against Party of Free Life of Kurdistan

TEHRAN: Iran has denied a claim by the Turkish interior minister that it took part in a joint operation on Monday targeting Kurdish rebels in the border area.
In recent weeks, Ankara has talked up the prospects of joint military action with Tehran against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its allies but Monday marked the first time it had spoken of a joint operation being carried out.
“Iran’s armed forces have no role in this operation,” the official IRNA news agency quoted an “informed source” in the general staff as saying on Monday evening.
However Iran “will forcefully confront any group that seeks to create unrest on our country’s soil,” the source added.
Earlier on Monday, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said: “We started staging a joint operation with Iran against the PKK on our eastern border as of 8 am (0500 GMT).”
Soylu did not specify where the joint operation was taking place but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said previously that joint military action would focus on PKK rear bases in Iraq near where the three countries’ borders meet.
The Turkish military has carried out repeated bombing campaigns against PKK targets in Iraq’s northern mountains during its more than three-decade campaign to crush the rebels’ campaign for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey.
In recent years, Tehran too has carried out operations in northern Iraq against suspected rear bases of the PKK’s Iran-focused ally, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK).
PJAK is one of a number of Kurdish rebel groups that have fought the Iranian security forces in ethnic Kurdish districts along the border.
Another PKK ally, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), is the main Kurdish armed group in Syria where, to the fury of Ankara, it has been a key ally in the US-led campaign against the extremists of the Daesh group which is now drawing to a close.


Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

Updated 11 min 18 sec ago

Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

  • EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities as demanded by the US is not a genuine cease-fire
  • He calls on Ankara to immediately stop military operations,

BRUSSELS/ANKARA: Macron critizes Turkey's aggression in Syria as "madness', bewails NATO inaction

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has bemoaned Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria as “madness” and decried NATO’s inability to react to the assault as a “serious mistake.”

“It weakens our credibility in finding partners on the ground who will be by our side and who think they will be protected in the long term. So that raises questions about how NATO functions.”

EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities is not a genuine cease-fire and called on Ankara to immediately stop military operations in Syria.

Dareen Khalifa, a senior Syria analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the cease-fire had unclear goals. 

There was no mention of the scope of the area that would be under Turkish control and, despite US Vice President Mike Pence referring to a 20-mile zone, the length of the zone remains ambiguous, she said.

Selim Sazak, a doctoral researcher at Brown University, believed the agreement would be implemented and the YPG would withdraw.

“The agency of the YPG is fairly limited. If the deal collapses because of the YPG, it’s actually all the better for Ankara,” he told Arab News. “What Ankara originally wanted was to take all of the belt into its control and eliminate as many of the YPG forces as possible. Instead, the YPG is withdrawing with a portion of its forces and its territory intact. Had the deal collapsed because of the YPG, Ankara would have reason to push forward, this time with much more legitimacy.”