Iraq has military capacity to counter Turkish attacks: Iraqi military official

As tensions rise between Ankara and Baghdad over the recent Turkish drone attack that killed two Iraqi border officials and Turkey’s continued bombardment of the Kurdistan Region, a top Iraqi military official is claiming that they have the military capability to repel foreign attacks on Iraqi soil.
Maj. Gen. Tahsin Khafaji, spokesperson of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, told Iraqi state media on Thursday that Iraqi security forces have the military capabilities to faceoff the Turkish attacks in case officials choose a military option over diplomatic efforts to face Turkey’s incursion into Iraq.
“The National Security Council affirmed in its meeting that Iraq has several options to respond to these attacks [Turkish attacks], including diplomatic dialogue and political action, as well as the security option” Khafaji said.
“The Joint Operations Command has the military capabilities to defend the country’s security and sovereignty from external attacks. In case the military option order is issued regarding this [Turkish attacks], the security forces are fully prepared to defend national security,” Khafaji revealed.
A Turkish drone attack targeted a meeting between Iraqi border officials and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters, and a military vehicle in Sidakan area in northern Erbil province on Tuesday, according to Iraq’s Security Media Cell. An attack on a vehicle resulted in the killing of two Iraqi border guards unit officials, and the vehicle driver who was also an officer in the Iraqi border guards unit.
Iraq’s foreign ministry strongly condemned the attack, and summoned the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad Fatih Yildiz, and handed him a memorandum containing Iraq’s concerns about the attack on Wednesday.
The spokesman for the ministry, Ahmed Al-Sahaf, told Rudaw on Wednesday that Iraq will seek “diplomatic options and political solutions” when responding to Turkish attacks on its land, adding that his country has a number of “powerful” leverage to use against Turkey if it continues its bombardment.
Iraq’s foreign ministry also “cancelled” Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar’s Thursday visit to Baghdad.
Ankara has not publicly acknowledged the fatal drone strike, repeating that it will continue its operations against the PKK in a statement Wednesday.
“As long as [the] PKK’s presence in Iraq continues to be tolerated, Turkey, as now, is determined to take necessary measures to safeguard its borders wherever and whenever [the] need arises,” reads the statement.
Turkey launched a new offensive in the Kurdistan Region on June 15, with the stated aim of removing PKK fighters from its borders with the Region. PKK is an armed force struggling for the political and cultural rights of Kurds in Turkey.
The Turkish ambassador to Iraq was summoned twice in June at the beginning of the latest Turkish operations in the country.
Turkey’s recent offensive has killed at least seven civilians and injured several others so far in addition to Tuesday’s casualties.
The attacks have hit Assyrian Christian villages particularly hard, with many settlements in Duhok province emptied of inhabitants following bombings and alleged clashes between Ankara and the PKK.
Villages in Zakho town in Duhok province were evacuated and placed under lockdown in June following airstrikes in the area. Local official told Rudaw that 361 villages in Duhok province have been completely emptied due to airstrikes over the past 20 years.
Iraqi security analyst, Husham al-Hashimi who was assassinated last month in Baghdad, told Rudaw in June “Baghdad and Erbil have both given Turkey and Iran the green light to conduct airstrikes.”
“It is a logical step by Baghdad. In return, Turkey will hand over senior Daesh (ISIS) leaders to the Iraqi government in coming months,” he added.

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