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Kurds appeal for pressure on Turkey to quit Iraq and Syria

KURDS called on trade unionists and peace activists yesterday to demand that Turkey withdraws troops from Iraqi Kurdistan and deplored international organisations’ failure to act against war crimes in the region.

The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) appealed to democratic forces to condemn the Turkish invasion of northern Iraq in an operation targeting the Kurdish population.

It called for the withdrawal of Ankara’s troops and accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime of “illegally bombing and invading Afrin” in northern Syria, with the latest operations indicating plans “for the full-scale ethnic cleansing of Kurds.”

In a statement, the KNK warned of “an imminent full-scale invasion of Iraqi Kurdish territory [which] poses an immense threat to humanitarian values, beliefs and democratic norms.”

The group, which includes Kurdish organisations from various countries and political persuasions, alleged that “many civilians” have been killed by Turkish warplanes carrying out bombing missions in the mountainous Qandil area near Iraq’s border with Iran as Turkey’s military attempts to “further encircle and strangle the only place of freedom in the region.”

The KNK decried the lack of an international response, despite appeals being made to the United Nations, European Union, Nato and the Arab League.

This silence has “emboldened” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to make further incursions into Iraqi territory, the group said.

Mr Erdogan claims his forces are targeting “terrorists” of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.

However, the KNK accused Turkey’s troops “of engaging in military parades” in Kurdish villages and “treating the occupied land as their own territory,” adding that Turkish military bases are being established in Iraqi territory.

When questioned, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said: “We are not part of those [Turkish] operations” against the PKK.

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