Amid tensions with Turkey, Iraqi PM orders forces to border

Haider Al-Abadi

BAGHDAD — Iraq's prime minister says he has ordered the military to take full control of the country's borders amid escalating tensions and Turkish threats of an incursion into Iraq.

Haider Al-Abadi said troops will prevent Turkey's Kurdish rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, to use Iraq for cross-border attacks against Turkey.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday if PKK do not vacate Iraqi regions of Sinjar and Qandil, it would be "inevitable" for Ankara to remove them.

Al-Abadi's statement says he reassured his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildirim, in a telephone conversation that he rejects any "violation" against Turkey through Iraqi territory.

It says Yildrim assured Al-Abadi that Turkey won't "launch operations without Iraqi government consent."

PKK, which has been fighting Ankara since 1984, maintains bases in northern Iraq.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey's intelligence chief would meet an Iraqi official to discuss an Iraqi military operation in Sinjar, a region of Iraq bordering on Turkey, where Ankara says Kurdish militants have established a base.

Erdogan also said Turkey's would do "what is necessary" if the Iraqi operation in Sinjar failed.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state for decades. President Tayyip Erdogan said last week they were creating a new base in Sinjar, and that Turkish forces would attack it if necessary.

Sources in northern Iraq said on Friday the PKK would withdraw from Sinjar, where it gained a foothold in 2014 after coming to the aid of the Yazidi minority community, who were under attack by Daesh militants.

The PKK has for decades been based in Iraq's Qandil mountain range, near the border with Iran. — Agencies