Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on March 30 said Turkey will conduct a military operation against the PKK in Sinjar, Iraq, Daily Sabah reported.
“[Turkey] will use military options against the PKK in Sinjar.
I’m not saying that we will only use military force if necessary, I’m saying that we will use military force, without question.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Speaking to Daily Sabah before the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels, Çavuşoğlu said the issue was discussed during US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Ankara on March 30.
“US officials told us that they also have plans to retreat and eliminate the PKK everywhere, including in Sinjar,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that the US told Turkey that “they will move in cooperation with us on this matter.”
According to Hurriyet Daily News, Çavuşoğlu said that Tillerson told him, President Erdoğan and Turkey’s prime minister that the US has “plans for the withdrawal and elimination of the PKK everywhere, including Sinjar.”
At a press conference in Ankara after meeting with Çavuşoğlu, Tillerson said: “We stand alongside Turkey in their fight to stop terrorism directed against its country and its people. The PKK attacks in Turkey last year remind us of how close to home the threat of attack is for the Turkish people.”
UPDATE April 2
Speaking at an April 1 meeting in western city Izmir, Çavuşoğlu reiterated Turkey’s resolve in fighting the PKK in Turkey and Iraq, WAARMedia reported.
“The PKK is a terrorist organisation that is targeting Turkey. And we are fighting the PKK. We are struggling inside and outside our borders. Wherever the PKK is or will be, we will continue this struggle,” Çavuşoğlu said.
“Like we are fighting them in Qandil, we will continue in Sinjar where they are trying to form a second Qandil.”
Previous statements on Sinjar
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık on March 16 said Turkey was considering a joint ground operation in Sinjar, Iraq alongside Peshmerga forces controlled by KDP leader Masoud Barzani, President of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, to prevent Kurdish militants from maintaining a foothold in the area.
Işık’s remarks echoed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s October 2016 suggestion that Turkey will take military action if the PKK does not leave the area. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak reiterated in December that the Turkish military could act if the KRG does not force the PKK out of Sinjar.
Referring to the situation in Sinjar, US State Department acting spokesperson Mark Toner said on March 13 that the PKK “has no place on the battlefield and we consider [it] to be a foreign terrorist organization,” restating the long-held view of Turkey’s most important NATO ally.
Sinjar’s long-standing connection with both the PKK and the Syrian YPG, and – more importantly – control of its border with Syria, has made the region a complex geo-political problem.