Turkish military forces recently moved nearly 27 kilometers into Iraqi-Kurdistan territory in an effort to take the PKK headquarters located in Qanqil. Turkey’s Minister of Interior stated, “Now our children are 26-27 kilometers ahead in northern Iraq … We used to say: ‘We would go to Qandil in this or that way.’ Now we are saying: ‘We are almost in Qandil. Do not worry.’ We will not leave it for traitors,” in reference to the events. This recent action is an extension of Operation Olive Branch, an “anti-terrorism” op that began with besiegement and eventual conquering of the Syrian Kurdish city of Afrin and presently aggression being made towards Manbij. Pictures and videos of the Turkish soldiers sharing meals and selfies with local Sidakan villagers have been go around social media. The Turkish soldiers soon returned to their border outposts after spending several hours in the village.
The Coalition for Democracy and Justice’s (CDJ) spokesman Rebwar Mahmmud stated, “Iraq and the Kurdistan Region’s sovereignty should be respected, and forces from other countries should not be permitted to enter the region. Turkish army’s incursion into the Kurdistan Region’s territory is violation of international laws, as well as Iraq and the Kurdistan Region’s sovereignty. We call on the Iraqi government and the KRG to work together in order to put a limit to breaking Kurdistan’s sovereignty,” in condemnation of the incursion.
Turkish General Chief of Staff, Gen. Hulusi Akar, has defended the Turkish military’s actions saying, “The terrorists who pose a threat to Turkey have been eliminated and we will continue to eliminate them, credit to the operations of Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch, and operations in northern Iraq.” He defiantly added that, “Our operations against terrorists in northern Iraq will continue.”
HPG (an armed wing of the PKK) commander, Bager Erdal has told local press that, “We will never accept the occupation of Southern Kurdistan by the Turkish state. We will not allow the Turkish state to feel safe on Kurdish soil.”
After the soldiers retreated following the mass condemnation by Kurdish and Iraqi officials as well as outrage from their respective communities. Sidakan Mayor Ihsan Chalabi told local media, “The force had asked for cooperation from the villagers, but they refused. They stayed in the village for just two hours, asking people to cooperate with them. But the villagers refused and thus they left the village.” The decision not to get involved by local villagers was in an attempt to prevent conflict within their region according to the mayor.
Featured image: Turkish KFOR soldiers demonstrate quick reaction skills. By Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hagburg, 116th Public Affairs Detachment [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.