March 19, 2019
Hours after Turkey’s interior minister was quoted as saying that a joint operation against Kurdish militants was launched together with Iran, an Iranian official denied any role.
Turkey’s Anadolu news agency had quoted Soleyman Soylu on Monday saying, “We started staging a joint operation with Iran against the PKK on our eastern border as of 0800 (0500 GMT) this morning”. PKK, is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
“We will announce the result later,” he added.
But Iran’s Fars news agency, close to the Revolutionary Guard, quoted a source at the Iranian armed forces saying, “The Turkish army carried out the operation against the militant group PKK, but Iran’s armed forces were not part of the operation”.
Soylu had not specify precisely which PKK bases the operation targeted but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in the past said it would be against militant hideouts in Iraq.
The Turkish military has often bombed PKK bases in Iraq’s mountainous northern regions as part of its decades-long operations against the group.
Iranian security forces have also fought the PKK affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) in the past. Both groups have bases in neighboring Iraq.
The PKK has waged a three-and-a-half decade insurgency against the Turkish state, initially seeking independence and more recently autonomy for Turkey’s Kurdish minority. Fighting has left tens of thousands dead.