Recep Tayyip Erdogan boards a plane bound for Jordan after speaking with reporters in Istanbul on Monday. Photo: AA
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A week after high-level Turkish and Iranian military officials met in Ankara, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is considering a joint operation against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
"Joint action against terrorist groups that have become a threat is always on the agenda. This issue has been discussed between the two military chiefs, and I discussed more broadly how this should be carried out," Reuters quoted Erdogan as telling reporters before boarding a plane bound for Jordan on an official visit.
The PKK through its armed People's Defence Force (HPG) in Turkey has resumed its 33-year armed guerrilla fight against the Turkish government, while its offshoot, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) have engaged with occasional skirmishes with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Iran's Tasnim news agency, which is close to the IRGC, reported Erdogan had spoken with the Islamic Republic's Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Mohammad Hossein Bagheri about "joint action against terrorist groups" during last week's meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara.
Tasnim added that Erdogan also said it is possible to conduct a joint operation with Iran against PKK positions in Shingal and Qandil.
Bagheri, Iran’s military chief, made a rare visit to Ankara, the first such visit since Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979, as he discussed the developments in Iraq and Syria with Turkish counterpart and president Erdogan.
Shingal contains PKK-affiliated Shingal Protection Units (YBS), which Turkey deems as a threat to its border, as it does in Qandil in the northeast of the Kurdistan Region.
Turkey regularly conducts air strikes against PKK the border regions of Kurdistan Region.
In April, Turkish war planes attacked a YBS position in Shingal
, killing a number of their fighters.
Last summer, five PJAK fighters were killed by the IRGC in the Sardasht region in Iran.
PJAK and Tehran reached a ceasefire agreement in 2011 after Iran agreed to stop executing Kurdish political prisoners if PJAK ceased its attacks.
Iran's parliament on Sunday approved most of President Hassan Rouhani's cabinet, including defense minister Amir Hatami. The General, for the first time in 25 years does not come from IRGC ranks, but received 261 votes, the most of any other candidate up for approval.
Turkey has also planned a wall on its border with Iran, similar to what it has done in Syria. Iran's foreign ministry said it "welcomed" the wall in a statement in May.