Turkey says it will stage raids with Iran against Kurdish rebels

Turkey and Iran will carry out a joint operation against the Kurdish rebels, according to Ankara’s interior minister.

Turkey has battled the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) for decades, while the Iranian security forces have also fought its affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). Both groups have bases in neighbouring Iraq.

“God willing, we will carry out a joint operation against the PKK together with Iran,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told state media.

Turkey and many of its Western allies have listed the PKK as a “terrorist” group.

Soylu did not specify the details of the suggested operation, or the time and location. Al Jazeera did not get a response to Soylu’s comments from the Iranian authorities.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously said a joint operation would be conducted against their hideouts in Iraq.

In 2017, Erdogan also said a joint Turkish-Iranian operation against Kurdish fighters was “always on the agenda”.

He added that the two countries’ military chiefs discussed how to work against Kurdish fighters, but Iran’s Revolutionary Guards denied that at the time.

Crossborder operations

The PKK has waged a three-and-a-half decade violent campaign seeking independence against the Turkish state.

More recently, it sought more recently autonomy for Turkey’s Kurdish minority. This conflict has left tens of thousands dead.

The Turkish military has often bombed PKK bases in Iraq’s mountainous regions.

Despite backing opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, both neighbours, which see themselves as historically powerful regional leaders, have recently been working with Russia towards a political solution to the crisis. 

Turkey backs moderate Syrian rebels in the conflict while Russia and Iran are the Syrian government’s principal foreign allies.

Ankara has conducted two military operations in Syria in the last three years targeting the Syrian Protection Units (YPG) fighters and its political wing, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which it considers “terrorist groups” with ties to the PKK.

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