By Ali Mustafayev
Baghdad harshly reacted to reports that Iran and Turkey plan to launch joint military operations against the PKK militants in the country’s territory.
Iraq will not allow being turned into a firing ground for neighboring states, Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Baghdad on August 23.
However, Ibrahim al-Jaafari further added, Iraq is ready to discuss this issue, if one of the parties invites the country to consider conducting a joint military operation.
Reportedly, Tehran and Ankara are currently negotiating on the start of the military operations at nine sites in northern Iraq.
Previously, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that a joint Turkish-Iranian operation against terrorist organizations in the region is possible. Erdogan’s announcement followed a statement of Iran, which proposed Turkey to launch joint military operations against terrorist organization PKK in the North of Iraq.
Cavusoglu, in his turn, welcomed the Iraqi state’s decision to launch military action in Tal Afar against the ISIL terrorists.
He said that Turkey is ready to support Iraq in liberating its territories from the terrorist groups. “In addition to the issue of combating the ISIL, after the liberation of Iraq, Turkey will continue to support the country in reconstruction of its cities and help with the international integration,” said Cavusoglu.
Ankara also voiced its concerns over the planned independence referendum and contended that the referendum's aftermath would cause further turmoil in the region.
Iraq’s Kurdish Autonomous Region plans to hold an independence referendum on September 25. Earlier, Masoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, had warned that opposition to the referendum would be met with “a bloody war”.
Cavusoglu said he would tell Iraqi Kurdish officials later in the day their decision to hold an independence referendum was wrong and that Ankara expects it to cancel the vote.
"Our expectation from Erbil is clear, that is the cancellation of the referendum, as the interests and future of the Kurds lies in a united Iraq," Cavusoglu told a news conference in Baghdad, broadcast on Turkish television, before travelling to Erbil in northern Iraq.
If the central government of Iraq and Erbil want Turkey’s mediation to solve the disagreement between the parties, Ankara is ready to help, the minister added.
Western nations fear the vote could ignite a new conflict with Baghdad and possibly neighbouring countries, diverting attention from the ongoing war against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.
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