Turkey warns it could invade north Iraq 'if threatened'

Turkey warns it could invade north Iraq 'if threatened'
As the Mosul operation against the Islamic State group rolls on, Turkey has said it could launch ground operations in Iraq to remove 'any threats to its security'.
2 min read
25 October, 2016
Turkish troops and Kurdish militants are engaged in a brutal war in southern Turkey [AFP]

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara could launch a ground operation in Iraq to remove any threats to Turkey that may arise.

"If there is a threat posed to Turkey, we are ready to use all our resources including a ground operation... to eliminate that threat," Cavusoglu told Kanal 24

Cavusoglu referred to Turkey's ambitious offensive in Syria as an example of how it takes its security seriously.

Since August, Ankara has supported Syrian opposition rebels with artillery and air raids, to clear Islamic State group militants and Kurdish militias from its border, in an operation known as Euphrates Shield.

Turkey views the presence of Kurdish rebels it alleges are links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on its border as a threat to its security.

The  PKK has bases in the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq which the Turkish military regularly hits with its warplanes.

Meanwhile, PKK fighters could aid Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers in the Battle of Mosul, giving the Turkish-Kurdish outfit an even stronger bargaining chip.

Turkey has also been keen to take part in the battle, despite Baghdad rejecting the offer.

"If the threat to us increases (there), we can deal with them using our rights under international law and our strength including a ground operation," he added.

Ankara also said this week it had already hit IS positions with its artillery at the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq. But Baghdad has denied Turkey's participation in military operations to retake the northern city of Mosul.

The foreign minister of Turkey said Monday that as a result of the artillery fire from the camp, 17 "terrorists" had been killed.

Meanwhile, rebels in northern Syria appear to be on a collision course with Kurdish groups in Tel Rifaat.

Turkey's ramped up rhetoric about further military action continued with Cavusoglu warning that if the YPG militia in Manbij, northern Syria, did not leave the city, "we know how to remove them with our own resources".