Entry of PKK militants condemned by Iraq

Iraq condemns entry of PKK militants

Tue, 14 May 2013 15:24:32 GMT

The Iraqi government has condemned the entry of militants from Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) into its territory as a “flagrant violation” of its sovereignty.

The Iraqi cabinet said in a statement on Tuesday that the group’s decision to leave Turkey for northern Iraq as part of a peace drive with Ankara also damages Baghdad’s relations with Ankara, AFP reported.

“The Iraqi government confirms its rejection of the withdrawal and the presence of armed men of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) inside Iraqi territory, which is a flagrant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and independence,” said the statement.

The statement comes hours after the first group of PKK militants, comprised of six women and nine men, crossed Turkey border into Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region despite opposition from Baghdad to the transfer.

Baghdad says it is planning to file a complaint to the United Nations Security Council over the arrival of PKK militants on its soil. Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement last week that while the Baghdad welcomes any settlement that ends the PKK-Turkey conflict, it “does not accept the entry of armed groups into its territory.”

Thousands of PKK militants are expected to withdraw from Turkey to settle in their strongholds in northern Iraq as part of a peace deal between the Ankara government and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in March. The full withdrawal may take up to four months.

The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s. The conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead on both sides.

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