The air strikes against the “positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the areas of Sinjar and Mount Karacak” were announced by a spokesperson for the Turkish Defense Minister on the same day. Air surveillance of the area showed that “terrorists suffered numerous casualties.”
On December 15, 2018, Turkey urged the Iraqi authorities to support its actions against PKK “in accordance with [Turkey’s] legitimate right to ensure its national security and bilateral agreements that allow destroying terrorists on the Iraqi territory.”
“Turkey takes on full responsibility in fight against terrorism,” emphasized Hami Aksoy, a spokesperson for the Turkish Foreign Ministry. “This is why it provides support to Iraq. And we expect the same understanding and efficient cooperation from Iraq.”
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (led by Abdullah Ocalan) was founded in 1978 with view to unite Kurds in fight for their political rights in Turkey and establish a Kurdish autonomy in the country. It was outlawed in Turkey after the military coup of 1980. In many countries, including the EU, it is listed as a terrorist organization. It has a military wing called People’s Defense Forces (HPG).
During the war against the Islamic State (an international terrorist organization prohibited in Russia) in Iraq, HPG field commanders and technical experts worked hard to provide professional individual and team training to Iraqi militia, and were actively involved in combat, especially when liberating the city of Mosul and its surroundings.
In 2014, the Syrian wing of the Kurdish HPG joined the US-led “Western coalition”, forming the core of the ground troops of the Syrian Democratic Forces. Despite this, Turkey considers HPG a terrorist military organization that threatens its national security and is determined to wage a war against it on the territory of neighboring countries.
“If the Iraqi authorities do not take the necessary measures to counteract terrorism, our Air Force will act on their right to protect Turkey from the aggression of HPG, which is based in Iraq,” Hami Aksoy announced.
The official Iraq has not commented on the situation, unwilling to aggravate relations with either Ankara or leaders of the Iraqi Kurds, who have lately been increasingly vocal in their demands that some groundwork be laid for separation of the Iraqi Kurdistan from Iraq.
As to the air strikes, their importance was mostly of a political nature, aiming to show other members of the “Western coalition” Turkey’s determination to fight vigorously in order to weaken the military capabilities of the followers of PKK, whose leaders have been nursing the idea of establishing an independent Kurdish state on the territory of Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
We can now expect Ankara to mount strikes against the Kurds in Iraq and Syria, while simultaneously attempting to put political pressure on the countries’ governments to support its actions.