Turkey, Iraq agree to cooperate against regional extremist groups

Turkey and Iraq have agreed to continue their cooperation in fighting extremist organisations including the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Both countries will continue their efforts against common enemies PKK, the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group and the Fethullahist Terror Organisation (FETÖ), Erdoğan told reporters following meetings with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

FETÖ is a reference to a network led by U.S.-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, who Turkey blames for orchestrating a failed coup in 2016. Gülen denies involvement in the attempt.

“There is no place for separatist terrorism in Turkey, Iraq or Syria,” Erdoğan said, according to AP. “Our region will not find peace until terrorism is quashed.”

Turkey launched a cross-border air and ground offensive in June to target the PKK in various regions of northern Iraq in response to an increase in attacks against Turkish armed forces. The PKK has based itself in northern Iraq to help avoid Turkish military attacks.

In October, the central Iraqi government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional administration signed an agreement to clear Iraq’s Sinjar district of all non-official armed groups including the PKK, a move that was welcomed by Turkey.

Kadhimi told reporters on Thursday that it was “not possible for Iraq to show tolerance toward any (group) that threatens Turkey”.

Turkey and Iraq also agreed to continue working on a Turkish-proposed action plan geared toward effectively regulating the waters of the Tigris River, following Turkey’s construction of Ilısu Dam in southeast Turkey, AP cited Erdoğan as saying.

There is a widespread belief among Iraqis that Turkey is manipulating the Tigris River issue to achieve political goals, the Arab Weekly reported on Thursday.

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