The Iraqi government has expressed its official protest at Turkey’s attacks against the Arab country’s north, saying the offensive must immediately stop.
The Iraqi cabinet’s spokesman Ahmed Mulla Talal said in a statement on Saturday the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad has been summoned to receive two official letters of protest, with strong tone, regarding the attacks by the Turkish forces on Iraqi lands.
The spokesman warned that his country will use the international law and covenants to establish the right of Iraq to reject and stop these attacks.
Baghdad strongly rejects and condemns the Turkish attacks on its territories which violate Iraq’s sovereignty and harm the close, long-standing relations between the two peoples, he noted.
The attacks are “detrimental to regional peace,” the spokesman said, describing the offensive as an “assault on the Iraqi sovereignty, lives and property.”
The statement urged the international community to "take steps that would enhance stability in the region, and to assign the sovereign right of Iraq to protect its lands and preserve the safety of its people.”
Turkey began fresh air and ground military operations in Kurdistan region in northern Iraq in mid-June, with the stated aim of removing suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets from the area. Five civilians have been confirmed killed by Turkish airstrikes.
The ground campaign, dubbed Claw-Tiger Operation, was launched against PKK positions in the Qandil Mountains as well as Sinjar and Makhmur districts on June 17. Claw-Eagle Operation, the air campaign, had begun two days earlier.
On Thursday night, Iraq threatened to cut off its trade ties with Turkey in protest at Ankara’s ongoing cross-border operation.
“Turkey has interests in Iraq as the annual trade balance between Baghdad and Ankara stands at more than 16 billion dollars annually. There are also hundreds of Turkish commercial insinuates operating inside Iraq. The Iraqi government will take actions against all these interests if urgent need arises,” spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed al-Sahaf, said in an exclusive interview with local Kurdish-language Rudaw television news network.
Sahaf further noted that the Iraqi government has a wide array of options to stop the Turkish offensive and demand compensation for the loss of civilian lives.
The PKK militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.
A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.
Turkish ground and air forces frequently carry out operations against PKK positions in the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.
More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.
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