Iran, Turkey launch war games ahead of Iraqi Kurdish vote

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-24 19:50:39|Editor: Yamei
Video PlayerClose

TEHRAN, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Iranian forces have launched war games near the border with Iraq's Kurdistan region, a day before a Kurdish independence referendum, Iranian State broadcaster IRIB reported on Sunday.

Turkey also said on Sunday its aircraft launched airstrikes against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq's Gara region on Saturday after spotting militants preparing to attack Turkish military outposts on the border.

Iraq's powerful neighbors, Iran and Turkey, strongly oppose the Kurdish vote, fearing that it could fuel separatism among their own Kurds.

Iran also supports Shi'ite groups who have been ruling or holding key security and government positions in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has resisted calls by the United Nations, the United States and Britain to delay the referendum who fear it could further destabilize the region.

IRIB said military drills, part of annual events held in Iran to mark the beginning of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, are centered in the Oshnavieh border region.

The war games will include artillery, armored and airborne units, it said.

Clashes with Iranian Kurdish militant groups based in Iraq are fairly common in the border area.

On Saturday, Turkish warplanes destroyed gun positions, caves and shelters used by PKK militants, a military statement in Ankara said.

Turkey's air force frequently carries out such airstrikes against the PKK in northern Iraq, where its commanders are based.

Turkey's parliament voted on Saturday to extend by a year a mandate authorising the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria.