PKK presence in region ‘unlawful,’ says Iraqi Kurdish president

The presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) in Iraqi Kurdistan is “unlawful”, the Iraqi Kurdistan presidency said in a statement on Sunday. 

“The Presidency of the Republic is following the alarming developments in the Kurdistan Region, and condemns the attack on a Peshmerga force in Dohuk Governorate on the morning of Saturday, June 5, 2021, in which a number of martyrs and wounded were killed,” the statement read. 

The PKK is an armed group designated as a terrorist organisation by Ankara that has led a four-decade insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey.

“Iraq will not allow its territory to be used as a staging post for any hostile action against any of its neighbors," it continued.

The statement comes after an incident on Saturday when five Peshmerga were killed and seven injured in an “attack” in Duhok’s Amedi district that one Peshmerga commander described as a "PKK trap", according to Kurdish outlet Rudaw

In their statement, the Iraqi Kurdish presidency also expressed the importance of working together with Turkey, who has increased its operations against the PKK in recent years. 

“The Presidency of the Republic also emphasizes strengthening relations with neighboring Turkey on the basis of common interests, resolving border problems and security files through cooperation and coordination, rejecting unilateral practices in addressing outstanding issues, and the necessity of respecting Iraqi sovereignty,” it said. 

Turkey regularly launches operations against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq targeting the PKK, most recently being in April with twin operations Claw-Lightning and Claw-Thunderbolt against the armed group within the Kurdistan Region’s borders.

Iraqi Kurdistan has adopted a harder line against the PKK in part to dissuade Turkey from launching more offensives into Iraq, which are opposed by the federal government in Baghdad and its ally Iran.