Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan warned Iraq that Ankara will “cleanse” a refugee camp for providing a safe haven for Kurdish freedom fighters, threatening to push his military campaign further into Iraqi territory.
Mr Erdogan said the Makhmour camp, located 180 km south of the Turkish border, which has hosted Turkish refugees for more than 20 years, was an “incubator” for Kurdish militias that belong to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
It must be shut down, but if the United Nations does not do anything to cleanse it then we will do so as a member state of the UN. For years Turkey has been battling an insurgency carried out by the PKK since the early 1980’s.
Ankara has carried out numerous cross-border incursions into Iraq over the years to fight the militant group, which maintains bases in the region. Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the insurgency in Turkey’s majority Kurdish south-east region began in 1984.
The PKK is designated a terrorist organization by the USA and the European Union. The Turkish president believes that Makhmour camp poses a threat no less than the one posed by the Qandil Mountains, a PKK stronghold also located in northern Iraq.
Security commanders and local officials investigated the Turkish complaint and told the government that the Makhmour camp was controlled by PKK fighters who did not allow access to government forces.
Makhmour camp was established in the early 1990’s when thousands of Kurds from Turkey crossed the border in a movement Ankara believes was deliberately provoked by the PKK.
Ankara launched a major air and ground operation against the PKK in northern Iraq.
The operation, dubbed operation Claw-Tiger, lasted for three months, and was launched to neutralize the PKK and other terrorist elements from northern Iraq to ensure security along the Turkish-Iraqi border.
Ankara carried out air and ground attacks in areas where it believes the group was hiding. Iraq protested against the Turkish strikes on its territory.
The National / ABC Flash Point News 2021.