الرئيسية » English Articles » Barzani heads to border zone, criticizes incursion

Barzani heads to border zone, criticizes incursion

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani criticized a ground offensive launched on Thursday night by Turkish troops into northern Iraq, calling the moves “bullying.”
In a statement released after talks with Kurdish peshmerga commanders and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) officials in Dohuk, one of three cities in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region that is located near the Turkish border, Barzani said the Iraqi Kurds favored a solution through non-military means. He headed to Dohuk yesterday to meet wıth local officials after the Turkish military announced the ground offensive. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was also heading to northern Iraq and was expected to meet with Barzani.
Safin Dizayee, a senior official of the KDP, said Barzani headed to the operation zone to prevent “tension from escalating.” Dizayee said the Iraqi Kurdish administration was still unable to get obtain reliable information on the Turkish operation because the incursion took place in a remote area. “Peshmerga forces have definitely not been given orders to clash with the Turkish troops,” Dizayee was quoted as saying by private NTV television. “They were given orders to protect residents. We renew our call for dialogue.”
A land operation into northern Iraq may exacerbate tension with Iraqi Kurds. Earlier this week, Barzani said in media remarks that Kurds’ patience was wearing thin in the face of ongoing aerial strikes by the Turkish military and warned that the Kurdish administration would not remain silent if the attacks continued. The military has carried out at least five aerial strikes on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq since Dec. 16.
Fouad Hussein, a spokesman for the Kurdish administration, said Kurdish peshmerga forces had been put on alert. He said Iraqi Kurdish forces also had tightened security around bases housing Turkish military monitors operating in northern Iraq with permission from local authorities under a 1996 agreement. “The government of Kurdistan ordered the peshmerga forces to be on alert in fear of any Turkish incursion on Iraqi territory,” he was quoted as saying by The Associated Press, claiming that Turkish military monitors had tried to leave their bases in violation of the accord.
“Those troops tried to move out, but the peshmerga forces forced them to return to their camps within half an hour,” he said. Turkish media reports said on Friday that a total of 1,200 Turkish monitors in four camps in Iraq were helping to coordinate the ground offensive.
Hussein said on Thursday that there were clashes between the peshmerga forces and the Turkish troops but his claims were immediately denied by the Turkish military.