News Analysis: Turkish army advances in Iraq to siege PKK, cut corridor with Syria: experts

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-06 00:54:07|Editor: yan
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ANKARA, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Turkish army advances in northern Iraq with land control operations near the border, aiming to cut off a Kurdish corridor through Syria and Iraq and prevent leakage of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) into Turkish territory.

According to Naim Baburoglu, a retired general and a security expert from Aydin University, Turkish forces intensified its land operations, airstrikes and artillery bombardment targeting the positions of the PKK in Iraq, with the focus on Qandil mountainous region.

The Qandil Mountains, located 40 km southeast of the Turkish border in Iraq's Irbil province, are being used as the headquarters of the PKK, which is outlawed in Turkey.

"The main strategy of minimizing terrorist attacks is elimination at its source. Now, Turkey has been implementing this strategy," he stated, noting that Ankara aims to minimize crossings of PKK members both into Syria and Turkey through enclosing the group's logistic camp in Iraq.

The expert recalled that the Turkish army advanced its ground incursion nearly 25 km into Iraq and reached Hakhurk region since March, aiming to cut off the corridor from west of Euphrates River in Syria to Iraq.

Syrian Kurds and their military wing People's Protection Units (YPG) have controlled a territory in the east and northeast of Syria near Turkey's border. The Turkish government sees their presence in its southern border as a threat saying the YPG is affiliated with the PKK.

Turkish army earlier launched Operation Euphrates Shield into Syria against both the Islamic State and the YPG, and Operation Olive Branch against YPG in Afrin province in Syria.

Turkish army's current advance breaks off the connection between PKK camp to Sinjar region in Iraq as well, the expert also noted.

For the second target of the operation, he noted that the PKK has been carrying out attacks into Turkey from its base in Qandil mountain region in Iraq, Baburoglu said.

Turkish army established 11 military bases in northern Iraq to cut off their infiltration routes from Iraq to Turkey, he added.

But Turkish officials did not revealed yet if Turkey will further move into Qandil region in the near future and conduct a military operation in PKK strongholds where the group's leaders are also hiding.

Bilgay Duman, an expert on Iraq from think tank ORSAM, pointed out that the tough geography in Qandil mountainous area near the Iraq-Iran border should not be compared to the Turkish army's previous military offenses in Syria.

He also stressed the necessity for establishing permanent military outposts to keep control of the region.

Turkish army had carried out many airstrikes against PKK positions since the mid-1990s, but has rarely conducted ground incursions.

Turkey and Iraq's central government will carry out a joint operation against PKK targets in northern Iraq after May elections in Iraq, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in March.

Asked if Turkey will launch a ground incursion into PKK stronghold in Qandil region, Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that there will be quartet cooperation among Turkey, the United States, the Iraqi Kurdish administration and the central government of Iraq.

"We are determined to clear off cross border PKK presence," said the minister.