Reuters: Iran said on Sunday it had reinforced its border security after Turkey launched an offensive in north Iraq against Kurdish rebels, a move an analyst said was likely aimed at stopping rebels hiding in Iran. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran said on Sunday it had reinforced its border security after Turkey launched an offensive in north Iraq against Kurdish rebels, a move an analyst said was likely aimed at stopping rebels hiding in Iran.
Turkey said it launched the cross-border offensive after Iraqi authorities failed to stop an estimated 3,000 members of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from using northern Iraq as a base to stage attacks on Turkish territory.
Iranian forces have also often clashed in Iraqi border areas with rebels from the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the PKK and which analysts say has bases in northeastern Iraq from where they operate against Iran.
“Necessary measures have already been taken to reinforce our borders,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a weekly news conference.
Iran, which brands PJAK a “terrorist” group, was probably concerned that Kurdish rebels might seek haven in or near Iranian territory as a result of the Turkish action, one analyst said, adding this was more likely than concern about a refugee influx.
“Regarding the PKK and other terrorist factions active in the region, we stress that the best way to face regional terrorists is for security cooperation between the regional countries,” Hosseini said.
But Iran, which has been seeking to improve ties with the Iraq, urged Turkey to heed Iraqi government concerns in its bid to put a halt to Kurdish rebel actions.
“Regarding the attack of the Turkish forces into Iraq, we believe the opinion of the Iraqi government must be valued although we also believe the terrorists must stop their terrorist operations there,” the spokesman said.
Hosseini repeated Iran’s position that the presence in the region of “foreign forces”, a term usually used to refer to the United States and its allies, was creating instability.
Iran has postponed talks with U.S. officials on Iraqi security, due be held in Baghdad, citing technical reasons. But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to become the first Iranian president since the 1979 revolution to visit Iraq next month.
(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb, writing by Edmund Blair)