ANKAWA, Iraq — Following a video conference between Turkey and Iran on Tuesday, the two regional rivals released a joint statement indicating they will continue to coordinate their attacks on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK).
The agreement, reached between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and published by Iranian state-run Mehr News Agency, stated the two countries would take, “steps for result-oriented cooperation, including joint operations, in countering terrorism and organised crime,” according to the statement published by Mehr News Agency.
The joint statement explicitly named the PKK and PJAK as the targets of the coordination:
“Bearing in mind that PKK/PJAK and all terrorist organisations in the region pose a common threat against the security of both Turkey and Iran, both sides emphasised that it is incumbent upon both countries to fully utilise the existing cooperation mechanisms against the activities of PKK/PJAK elements and the other terrorist organisations along the common borders.”
Since mid-June, Turkey and Iran have engaged in cross-border military operations ostensibly targeting the PKK and PJAK.
The PKK has been in armed conflict with the Turkish state since the 1980s and PJAK with the Iranian state since 2004.
However, Turkish drone and air strikes have repeatedly targeted areas without a PKK presence, according to locals.
Human Rights Watch has criticized Turkey for the carelessness of its military operation which has killed over a dozen civilians and displaced thousands more, many of whom are Christian Chaldeans–Syriacs–Assyrians and Yezidis.
A fact-finding committee set up by Baghdad visited various border areas in Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, Halabja, Nohadra (Duhok), and Shengal (Sinjar). The reports showed that Turkey has entered into Iraqi territory up to 15 km from the border.
The committees also counted 504 villages evacuated due to repeated shelling and air strikes by Turkish forces, including many Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian villages. Moreover, Turkish military operations have resulted in dozens of deaths and injuries of civilians in various areas of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Turkey announced the official end of ground operations on Sunday, but air operations are expected to continue.