Manoeuvers in Silopi come a week ahead of Kurdish independence referendum
Turkey launched military exercises on the Iraqi border on Monday, the military said in a brief statement.
The manoeuvers come a week before northern Iraq’s Kurdish region is due to hold an independence referendum that is opposed by Turkey and the wider international community.
In a brief statement on its website, the Turkish Armed Forces said exercises had begun in the Silopi and Habur areas of Sirnak province.
The area sits to the north of the Syrian and Iraqi borders and contains the Habur border crossing, which provides the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq with its main access point to the outside world.
Across the Syrian frontier from Silopi lies territory controlled by the PKK/PYD. Counter-terrorism operations targeting the PKK on the Turkish side of the border are ongoing, the statement said.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the EU and U.S. as well as Turkey, although only Turkey has designated the PKK/PYD as a terror group in Syria, where it is used by the U.S.-led coalition to fight Daesh.
Turkey, the U.S., Iraq, and the UN have all spoken out against the Sept. 25 referendum in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, saying the vote will distract from operations against Daesh and lead to greater instability in the region.