Iran Denies Joint Operation Against Kurds With Turkey
RFE/RL August 22, 2017
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has denied a claim by Turkey that the two countries were planning to conduct joint military operations against Kurdish rebel groups beyond the country's borders.
"We have not planned any operations across the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran," the IRGC said in an August 22 statement published by Iranian news agencies.
"But as always we will strongly confront any group, team, or person who wants to penetrate into Iran's territory for antisecurity or terrorist operations," the statement added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted on August 21 by Reuters as saying that his country and Iran have discussed possible joint military action against Kurdish militant groups.
Erdogan said the issue had been discussed in Ankara last week between the chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, and Turkish leaders. Bagheri's visit to Turkey was seen as a sign of warming ties between the two countries.
"Joint action against terrorist groups that have become a threat is always on the agenda. This issue has been discussed between the two military chiefs, and I discussed more broadly how this should be carried out," Erdogan was quoted as telling reporters.
He said Turkey and Iran can work together against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) whose affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), has staged attacks on Iranian targets.
"As you know, the PKK terror organization has a foot in Iran. It has always caused harm to Iran and to us. We work together because we believe that if the two countries cooperate, we can get results in a much shorter period of time," Erdogan said.
The IRGC denied that any specific operation was planned while warning "terrorist groups" against taking actions on Iran's borders.
"Although Iran has no plan to take widespread operational actions outside its borders, if any terrorist group...aims to take the slightest measure to create insecurity on our borders, they will be faced with our intensive and fierce response, and their remnants will be targeted wherever they are," the IRGC said.
With reporting by AFP, Fars, and ISNA
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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