Iraqi PM Orders Troops to Secure Borders Amid Turkish Threats of an Incursion Into Iraq

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Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army are deployed in Afrin, Syria March 18, 2018
Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army are deployed in Afrin, Syria March 18, 2018Credit: \ KHALIL ASHAWI/ REUTERS

Iraq's prime minister says he has ordered the military to take full control of the country's borders amid escalating tensions and Turkish threats of an incursion into Iraq.

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Haider al-Abadi says troops will prevent Turkey's Kurdish rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, to use Iraq for cross-border attacks against Turkey.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday if PKK do not vacate Iraqi regions of Sinjar and Qandil, it would be "inevitable" for Ankara to remove them.

Al-Abadi's statement says he reassured his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildirim, in a telephone conversation that he rejects any "violation" against Turkey through Iraqi territory.

It says Yildrim assured al-Abadi that Turkey won't "launch operations without Iraqi government consent."

The PKK, which has been fighting Ankara since 1984, maintains bases in northern Iraq.

Its founding father and leader Abdullah Öcalan has been jailed in the high-security Turkish facilities of the island of Imrali, in the Sea of Marmara, since 1999.

A window of negotiations was opened between the Turkish government and the PKK leadership between 2013 and 2015, but talks collapsed into renewed warfare.

Armed confrontations between the PKK and Ankara’s military are a daily occurrence and cause casualties on a daily basis in the Kurdish majority south-east of the country, even though they don’t make international news.

Turkey is currently embroiled in a nearly two-month long large-scale operation into Syria to pursue the enemy Kurdish militia known as YPG, which the government considers as being as one with the enemy PKK.

The divergence of views with the United States, which do not consider the YPG a terrorist organization but rather as an ally in the civil war in Syria, has troubled relations between the two countries.

In the West, the YPG has been widely praised for its role in defeating the Islamic State.

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