Iran’s military Chief of Staff office has denied a statement by Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Monday that Turkey and Iran carried out a joint operation against militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), BBC correspondent Jiyar Gol reported on Twitter.
A source at the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces told Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency(IRNA) on Monday that Ankara had launched an operation against the PKK along its eastern borders earlier in the day, however Iranian Armed Forces have not been involved in the operation.
“We started carrying out an operation with Iran against the PKK on our eastern border this morning, will announce the result,” state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Soylu as saying, according to Reuters.
Turkey’s military regularly carries out air strikes against PKK militants in northern Iraq and has carried out operations to arrest members of the group in Turkey. The PKK, which has led an armed insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984, is labelled a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.
Turkish-British researcher and writer Ziya Meral urged observers not to jump to the conclusion that NATO-member Turkey had aligned with Iran and turned away from its Western partners.
“Do not get carried away with this as ‘Iran-Turkey alliance’ vis-à-vis favourite ‘Turkey turning away from West,’” he said on Twitter, before referring to the Kurdistan Free Life Party, or PJAK, an Iranian Kurdish group linked to the PKK.
“There is a history to [Iran and Turkey] engagement on PJAK and PKK, and occasional such cooperation, undermined deeply by firm belief in Ankara that [Iran] engages with PKK.”