Türkİye, Middle East

Turkish defense chief visits northern Iraq

Turkish officials, Kurdish Regional Government discuss fight against PKK terror in Erbil province

Sarp Ozer, Bekir Aydogan and Zehra Nur Duz  | 19.01.2021 - Update : 20.01.2021
Turkish defense chief visits northern Iraq

ERBIL, Iraq  

Turkey's defense minister held separate meetings with Tuesday with northern Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)'s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, former President of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region Masoud Barzani and current President Nechirvan Barzani.

Hulusi Akar, along with Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler, visited Erbil, the capital of the KRG, late Monday after an official trip to Baghdad.

Akar met the former president, who is also the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

“We discussed the ongoing cooperation between Iraq, the Kurdistan Region and Turkey and stressed the significance of further strengthening that correlation,” Masoud Barzani said on Twitter.

Akar said key successes have been achieved against the Daesh/ISIS terror organization in Iraq and expressed his belief that the two countries would gain important successes in fighting other terror groups.

“We must further strengthen our cooperation and stand together resolutely against the PKK terrorist organization,” said Akar.

Turkey wants to eliminate PKK terrorists in the region to ensure its border security and live in peace and prosperity with its neighbors, he added.

Later, Akar and Guler met Barzani at the Iraqi prime ministry office.

“We had a productive exchange of views on bilateral and regional security and discussed practical measures to increase economic cooperation, trade and investment,” said the prime minister on Twitter.

Akar and Guler were also received by the KRG president.

During that meeting, the two sides discussed the implementation of the Sinjar deal to eliminate PKK's presence in the Sinjar district, security of the borders and improving bilateral relations, the presidency said in a statement.

Barzani thanked Turkey for supporting the Iraqi central government and the KRG in their fight against the Daesh/ISIS terror group.

The current president denounced attempts to use Iraqi and KRG territories as a base for attacks against Turkey and neighboring countries.

Iraqi security forces started to implement a deployment plan Dec. 1 in the center of Sinjar district of Nineveh province to enhance stability and security in the area and enable displaced locals to return home.

The Sinjar deal, inked under the auspices of the UN on the status of the region, seeks to clear the region of the PKK terrorists.

The PKK terror organization managed to establish a foothold in Sinjar in 2014 under the pretext of protecting the Ezidi community from Daesh/ISIS terrorists.

Later, the Turkish military chiefs visited the Iraqi Turkmen Front Erbil Office, welcomed by Iraq-Turkmen Front Executive Committee Member Aydin Maruf Selim and an accompanying delegation.

Finally, Akar and Guler, visited Consulate General of Turkey in Erbil to meet with Turkey's Consul-General in Erbil Hakan Karacay and consulate general staff.

After his official meetings ended in Iraq, Akar returned to Turkey on late Tuesday.

Turkish officials arrived in the Iraqi capital for a two-day official visit on Monday, Turkey's National Defense Ministry announced.

Akar and Guler met with senior Iraqi officials Monday in Baghdad, including President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, Defense Minister Jouma Anad and Interior Minister Othman Al-Ghanimi.

Combating terrorism was the main focus of talks, as well as cooperation between Turkey and Iraq, said a ministry statement. 

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. 

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