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Turkey May Launch Ground Operation in Northern Iraq | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A young internally displaced Iraqi girl stands on a dusty path at the edge of Debaga camp, near Mosul in northern Iraq. Photo: UNHCR/Ivor Prickett

Baghdad–Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Minister Melvut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that Ankara could launch a ground operation in Iraq to face threats from Kurdish groups to its forces stationed in the country.

“If there is a threat posed to Turkey, we are ready to use all our resources including a ground operation…to eliminate that threat,” Cavusoglu said.

“It is our most natural right,” he added.

Cavusoglu noted any threat against his country in neighboring regions of Iraq – including the northern district of Sinjar – could draw a response.

“If the threat to us increases (there), we can deal with them using our rights under international law and our strength including a ground operation,” he added.

Meanwhile, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett McGurk said that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was a terrorist organization and posed a threat to Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq.

Speaking at a press conference in Baghdad, McGurk highlighted the threat posed by the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union.

On Tuesday, the United Nations human rights office said that it continues to receive reports of grave violations against civilians, including extrajudicial killings and summary executions, by ISIS extremists.

“We also continue to receive information that reinforces the belief that ISIS are deliberately using civilians as human shields – forcing them to move to sites where ISIS fighters are based, or preventing them from leaving other places for strategic reasons,” said Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) at the regular news briefing at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).

Colville cited some “preliminary” though not definitive examples, including, among others, that human rights staff in Iraq have been informed that ISIS killed 15 civilians in Safina, a village around 45 kilometers south of Mosul, and threw their bodies in the river – apparently in an attempt to spread terror among the other residents.