united Kurdish defense force that would include troops from all four parts of Kurdistan – Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria.
Kurdish Delegation from Turkey Discusses Joint Force That Would Include PKK
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The formation of a joint Kurdish force to fight Islamic State (IS) militants moved forward, with a meeting in Erbil between Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Kurdish leaders from Turkey.
The visiting delegation included the co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas, who last week called for a united Kurdish defense force that would include troops from all four parts of Kurdistan – Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria.
He controversially demanded that Ankara arm the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an insurgent group that has been in conflict with Ankara since 1984, to help confront the threat posed by the Islamic State, the group formerly known as ISIS or ISIL.
Demirtas, who was harshly criticized by Turkish officials and media for the suggestion, clarified in a statement Thursday that he meant the force to be formed in Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), not in Turkey.
PKK forces proved effective in countering IS militants in Syria and in the Kurdistan Region, during an onslaught by the jihadis on Makhmour and Shingal.
“The PKK stands alone against ISIL barbarism in the region. Thus, it should be supported by Turkey,” said Demirtas, who was also a candidate in last month’s presidential election in Turkey.
The visiting delegation also met PKK leaders in their Qandil mountain base in Kurdistan, as well as former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani and other members of his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Sulaimani.
The delegation also included HDP co-chair Figen Yuksekdag, other senior party officials and the co-chair of the European Yezidi Federation, Leyla Ferman.