Turkey to establish military bases in Iraq following ‘Operation Tiger-Claw’ against PKK militants
Turkey is planning to establish more military bases in northern Iraq following a series of strikes against militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) there, a senior Turkish official told Reuters on Thursday.
“The plan is to establish temporary base areas [to] prevent the cleared regions from being used for the same purpose again. There are already more than 10 temporary bases there. New ones will be established,” the senior official, who requested anonymity, said.
The Turkish Defence Ministry announced on Thursday that the Turkish military had struck over 500 PKK targets with F-16 jets, drones and howitzers in the Haftanin area of Iraq as part of “Operation Tiger-Claw”, which Turkey launched on Wednesday in northern Iraq.
Turkey says the operation is in response to a "recent upsurge in attacks on our police stations and military bases".
However, the Iraqi government has strongly protested the operation and summoned the ambassadors of Turkey and Iran, which has launched its own attacks on Iranian Kurdish militants based in Iraq.
On Thursday, Baghdad called on Turkey to withdraw its troops from Iraq and “cease acts of provocation”. The Arab League has also blasted the Turkish operation as a “violation of Iraq’s sovereignty”, sparking a war of words with Ankara.
The senior Turkish official told Reuters that Turkey had begun the operation after talks with Iraq and the aim was to clear the Iraqi-Turkish border of PKK militants and target their routes and logistical capability.
The PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the ensuing conflict. It is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU.
Turkey has launched regular attacks on PKK militants in northern Iraq in the past but the current operation is on a much larger scale.