By Sarp Ozer and Zuhal Demirci
Turkey will not allow the presence of the PKK terrorist group or its offshoots in northern Iraq, the nation's defense minister said in the wake of counter-terrorist airstrikes in both Iraq and northeastern Syria.
“Our president, prime minister, our ministers, and myself have repeatedly said that we won’t tolerate Sinjar becoming another Qandil,” Fikri Isik told a defense industry gathering, referring to northern Iraq’s Mt. Sinjar, the target of Turkish airstrikes Tuesday, and Mt. Qandil, so-called headquarters of the terrorist PKK.
“Turkey will take all necessary measures in this regard, whatever the cost,” he added.
“Operations carried out in Sinjar and Karacok [Syria] targeted the terror group. Everyone should be aware that there can be no possibility of the PKK terrorist organization or its offshoots having a new base in Sinjar,” he told the Defense and Aerospace Industry Exporters' Association in the capital Ankara.
He added, "We are willing to set international cooperation at the highest level in this regard; while doing this we look to possible cooperation with our allies at the highest level."
Separately, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on an official visit, about the airstrikes, “We informed the U.S., one of our allies, that we would carry out an air operation in this region soon and requested that they withdraw their armies to 20-30 kilometers south out of our border."
"Under the agreement, two hours before the operation started, we shared information that we would carry out an operation in that region with the U.S. and Russia. We also shared the same information with the air coordination center of the coalition located in Qatar," he added, contrary to U.S. claims that it had not been informed.
The PKK targets on Mt. Sinjar, northern Iraq and Mt. Karacok, northeastern Syria were hit to prevent the terrorist group from sending terrorists, arms, ammunition, and explosives to Turkey, the Turkish General Staff announced Tuesday.
The air operation was conducted "within the scope of the international law" and "with the aim of destroying the hotbeds of terrorism which target the unity, integrity, and safety of our country and nation," it added.