By Nilay Kar Onum
Turkish armed forces will remain in northern Iraq until the terrorists are cleared from the region, Turkey’s defense minister said on Tuesday.
Speaking at Anadolu Agency’s Editors' Desk in the capital Ankara, Nurettin Canikli said: “Turkish armed forces will remain in [northern Iraq] with all means until the mission completes.”
He said the latest round of operations in northern Iraq differed from the previous ones in that Turkish troops for the first time had set up bases there.
"We will be there [in northern Iraq] permanently until we will wipe out the terror completely."
Canikli also said that Iran has expressed “very clearly” their support to Turkey’s anti-terror operations targeting all the terror elements in northern Iraq, including Qandil region.
More than 500 terrorists have been neutralized in northern Iraq since the beginning of 2018, he noted.
"They [PKK terrorists] are staging attacks from there [northern Iraq] against our country. There are some serious infiltrations [into Turkey]. It is a quite mountainous area [...] where terror and terrorists can easily move."
The defense minister also emphasized that the army has been carrying out the operation without harming any country’s territorial integrity.
Turkey has launched anti-terror operations in both Qandil and Sinjar regions in northern Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.
Airstrikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq, where the terror group has its main base in the Mt. Qandil region, near the Iranian border, have been carried out regularly since July 2015, when the terrorist PKK resumed its armed campaign.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as the U.S. and EU. In its terror campaign against Turkey, which has lasted for more than three decades, over 40,000 people have been killed, including women and children.
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