By Kasim Ileri
The PKK should leave northern Iraq’s Sinjar region because the militant group complicates the situation there, a senior official with the Kurdish regional government said Thursday.
“This is not a territory where they can establish their rule. They have to respect what the KRG needs to do in that area and so to the people of Sinjar who will eventually run and govern their territory,” regional security chief Masrour Barzani told an audience at the Wilson Center -- a Washington, D.C. think tank.
The PKK terror group has sought a foothold in the region that falls on the northeastern mountainous outskirts of Nineveh province, since Daesh was driven out last year by peshmerga and local forces with the help of U.S.-led coalition.
Turkey previously said it would take precautionary measures, including deploying troops, to prevent PKK terrorists from securing a base in the Sinjar region.
“The presence of PKK has complicated the situation and we hope that they will eventually come to terms and accept that they need to return to their own places and leave Sinjar,” Barzani said.
The presence of the Turkish military in northern Iraq is an issue that has strained ties between Ankara and Baghdad.
Barzani said Turks entered the country last year under an agreement with the knowledge of the Iraqi government that allowed Turkish troops to train peshmerga forces, Iraqi security forces and the Mosul police force, as well as Sunni tribal volunteers.
“When the mission of the two first bases in Sulemania and Soran ended, the Turks returned,” he said. “But the one in Bashiqa was different because there were volunteers from Mosul and from the neighboring areas that actually continued to roll in that camp for training.”
The Bashiqa camp is located 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Mosul.
Noting the camp’s proximity to the Daesh frontline, Barzani said deployment of additional Turkish troops needed to protect the camp, triggered tension with Baghdad.
An ongoing operation led by Iraqi forces to liberate Mosul from Daesh will be a much harder fight than expected, he predicted.
Iraqi security forces are facing fierce resistance from Daesh in eastern districts of the city “which was supposed to be an easier part” of the battle, he said.
“When you go to the west, the western banks of the Tigris River, we expect the fight is going to be even harder because of the fact there are more sympathizers on that side,” he added.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.