Turkey says it will stage raids with Iran against Kurdish rebels

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told state media about the plan without elaborating.

Turkey says it will stage raids with Iran against Kurdish rebels
Soylu did not specify details of the suggested operations, neither the time or location of them [Getty Images]

Turkey and Iran will carry out a joint operation against Kurdish rebels, according to Ankara’s interior minister.

Turkey has battled the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) for decades, while Iranian security forces have fought its affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). Both groups have bases in neighbouring Iraq.

“God willing, we will carry out a joint operation against the PKK together with Iran,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told state media.

Turkey and many of its Western allies have listed the PKK as a “terrorist” group.

Soylu did not specify the details of the suggested operation, or the time and location. Al Jazeera did not get a response to Soylu’s comments from the Iranian authorities.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously said a joint operation would be conducted against the groups’ hideouts in Iraq.

In 2017, Erdogan also said a joint Turkish-Iranian operation against Kurdish fighters was “always on the agenda”.

He added that the two countries’ military chiefs discussed how to work against Kurdish fighters, but Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps denied that at the time.

Crossborder operations

The PKK has waged a three-and-a-half decade violent campaign seeking independencefrom the Turkish state, a conflict that has left tens of thousands dead.

More recently, it sought more autonomy for Turkey’s Kurdish minority.

The Turkish military has often bombed PKK bases in Iraq’s mountainous regions.

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Despite backing opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, both neighbours, which see themselves as historically powerful regional leaders, have recently been working with Russia towards a political solution to the crisis.

Turkey backs moderate Syrian rebels in the conflict while Russia and Iran are the Syrian government’s principal foreign allies.

Ankara has conducted two military operations in Syria in the past three years targeting the Syrian Protection Units (YPG) fighters and its political wing, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which it considers “terrorist groups” with ties to the PKK.

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