Kurdistan region and Baghdad governments discuss strengthening Iraqi border against Turkey, Iran

Kurdistan region and Baghdad governments discuss strengthening Iraqi border against Turkey, Iran
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KRG and Iraq emphasized the importance of coordination against Turkish and Iranian attacks

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani and the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani on Sunday held a second meeting in a week to discuss border security against recent Turkish and Iranian attacks on Iraq’s territory.

“Both sides stressed the importance of resolving security issues and working towards peace and stability in the border areas with neighboring countries as decided at the last meeting of the [Iraqi] National Security Council,” Barzani’s office said in a statement following the Baghdad meeting with al-Sudani, Rudaw English reported.

Iraq’s National Security Council chaired by al-Sudani on Wednesday decided to to deploy additional troops on its Turkish and Iranian borders to strengthen its territorial integrity against the two neighboring countries’ recent attacks. The Council agreed to “develop a plan to redeploy the Iraqi border forces to hold the zero line along the borders with Iran and Turkey,” according to Iraqi state-media.

Turkey on Nov.19 has launched an aerial offensive into Northern Iraq and Syria targeting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in response to a bomb attack in Istanbul, killing six people on Nov.13.

Accusing PKK and YPG over the attack, Ankara has been since conducting airstrikes targeting the two groups’ bases in the region. Iran on the other hand, has recently increased its cross-border operations into Northern Iraq, targeting Iranian-Kurdish opposition groups.

In their previous meeting on Tuesday, Barzani and al-Sudani also agreed to act in cooperation to “unify the national effort to protect the Iraqi borders.”

Iraq on Thursday also summoned Turkish and Iranian ambassadors in Baghdad over the attacks.

“These attacks by both Turkey and Iran distract the efforts of countering terrorism on regional level,” Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed al-Sahhaf told Associated Press (AP).

The PKK is an outlawed armed group, fighting an insurgency on Turkish soil for almost four decades, maintains its headquarters in Northern Iraq and designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. The Kurdish YPG that forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is allied with the West in a fight against the Islamic State in Syria. Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the PKK.

PKK and YPG denied involvement in the Istanbul bomb attack that rocked the city’s historical Istiklal Avenue in Taksim district, killing six and wounding 81 people.