Iran-backed militia groups urge withdrawal of Turkish forces from Iraq, threaten attack

Shiite paramilitary groups in Iraq have called for Turkey to withdraw from the country and for the government in Baghdad to push back against any future operations by the Turkish Armed Forces.

Over the weekend, a Turkish military operation was launched to rescue hostages held by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants based in northern Iraq. Three Turkish soldiers were killed in the operation, which was halted after the discovery of 13 Turks found dead in a cave in the Gara region of northern Iraq.

Following the Turkish operation, the Asayib Ehlilhak Organization called for the Iraqi government to reject any future military campaigns from Turkey into its territory and for Ankara to withdraw its forces, Rudaw reported.

“Turkey’s violations are against all divine, customs and international laws. We request from the government of Iraq that such violations are prevented and all rights from the constitution and the laws are utilised. We request that action is taken for the manifestation of the national will  and a parliamentary decision to ensure the protection of Iraq’s safety, sovereignty and independence,’’ read the statement. 

Other Shiite groups spoke out against any Turkish incursion. Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, an Iran-linked militia, criticised the Iraqi government for “weakness” that enabled Turkey to violate its sovereignty.   

“If the government continues to remain silent, the Iraqi people and the resistance will face the occupiers and will adopt a determined stance to repulse them,” the militia said.

The PKK is considered an international terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Washington also designates the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba as a terrorist organisation.