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US Says Erbil, Baghdad, Ankara Should Cooperate to Address Issue of PKK Presence

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The governments of Iraq, Turkey, and Kurdistan Region should work together to solve the issues pertaining to the presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq and Kurdistan Region, Washington says.

US State Department's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Joey Hood, said on Tuesday that it was better for Erbil, Baghdad, and Ankara to start with Sinjar, the Yezidi heartland in the disputed Kurdish areas of northern Nineveh province, to clear it out from militias, including the PKK.

The comments came only a few hours after Turkey resumed the airstrikes in Sinjar and its fighter jets targeted a PKK vehicle. The Sinjar Protection Units (YBS) confirmed that its forces were targeted, but a statement by Iraq’s War Security Cell said two civilians were killed in the Tuesday night’s airstrike.

“There is no place better for the parties to start than Sinjar.  If you could have the Kurdistan Regional Government, the federal government in Baghdad, and Turkey working together with advice and support from the United States and other coalition countries, you could see where maybe a place like Sinjar could be cleared out of militias, including the PKK, and you could put a civilian administration in there that would work for the people and be accepted by the people so that Yezidi IDPs, victims of genocide could actually go home, which they can’t do safely and voluntarily right now,” Hood said.

He also revealed that Washington, at a high level, was in talks with the parties on the issue of the PKK presence in northern Iraq.

Meanwhile,David Copley, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq Affairs at the the US State Department, said Iraq’s sovereignty has to be respected while describing Turkey’s security concerns as “legitimate”.

“We’d like to see Turkey and Iraq work closely together to address concerns about the PKK’s presence in northern Iraq.  It’s important to respect Iraqi sovereignty.  It’s also important to recognize that Turkey has legitimate security interests,” he added.
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