Erdogan intends to pay ‘special visit’ to Iraq: Turkish ambassador

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks after a Cabinet meeting held at the Beştepe Presidential Complex in Ankara, June 29, 2020. (Anadolu Agency)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intends to pay a visit to Iraq, Iraqi media cited Turkey’s ambassador as saying.

Turkish ambassador in Baghdad Ali Riza Guney met with Iraq’s national security advisor Qasem al-Araji on Saturday, national Iraqi news agency NINA reported.

The Turkish ambassador said “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intends to pay a special visit to Iraq,” without providing further details, according to the report.

Last month, Iraqi foreign minister Fuad Hussein delivered an invitation letter from Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to Erdogan to take part in a regional summit hosted by the Iraqi government on August 28.

But Erdogan did not take part in the summit, attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and other regional leaders. Instead, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu participated in the Baghdad summit.

Erdogan’s intention to visit Iraq comes as Turkey continues to carry out cross-border operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

On Friday, Turkish warplanes bombed a refugee camp in Makhmour, southwest of Erbil. Casualties remained unclear.

The camp was established in the 1990s when thousands of Kurds from Turkey crossed the border in a movement Ankara says was deliberately provoked by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkey also bombed Sinjar district three times in just month. On August 21, a Turkish drone targeted a clinic in Sinjar, killing eight people and wounding four others.

Among the dead were four employees of the clinic and four fighters from the PKK-linked 80th Brigade of Iraq’s powerful, state-sponsored Hashid al-Shaabi.

The 80th Brigade is made up of Yazidi minority, who were persecuted by the Islamic State group from 2014 and whose bastion is Sinjar.

Sinjar’s deputy mayor Jalal Khalef told AFP that the air raid “totally destroyed” the clinic in Sinjar, a region Ankara regularly targets in operations against the Kurdish fighters affiliated to the PKK.

The strikes came one day after a Turkish drone bombed a vehicle in Sinjar, killing three Yazidi fighters including a local chief of the Popular Mobilization forces.

Turkish forces routinely conduct operations against PKK bases in rugged mountains in the Kurdistan Region.

In August, a Turkish airstrike killed a 50-year-old man in Disheshe village in Kani Mase sub-district, northeast of Duhok.

Iraq regularly decries violations of its sovereignty, and has repeatedly summoned the Turkish ambassador over Ankara’s cross-border military campaign.

But Iraq, which counts on Turkey as an important commercial partner, has refrained from taking punitive measures.

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