Iraq’s Foreign Ministry on May 3 summoned the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad to protest Turkish Defense Defense Minister Hulusi Akar's visit to a military base in the Kurdistan Region “without coordination or prior approval from authorities.”
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry handed the Turkish envoy a memorandum which noted “strong dissatisfaction and condemnation of Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi [Akar’s] presence on Iraqi territory, as well his meeting with Turkish forces who are there illegally,” read the statement from the Iraqi Ministry, according to the Erbil-based news media group Rudaw.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry also said that Baghdad “categorically rejects the continued violations of Iraqi sovereignty and the sanctity of Iraqi land as well as its airspace by Turkish military forces.”
Akar on May 1 toured a Turkish military base in the Kurdistan Region. The Turkish minister was accompanied by Chief of the General Staff Yaşar Güler and Land Forces Commander Ümit Dündar during his visit to the Biliç Tepe Base area, where they were briefed on the continuing operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Akar's visit came as Turkey on April 23 launched a fresh operation against the PKK in northern Iraq, dubbed “Operation Claw-Lightning.”
Turkey has established a number of military outposts inside Iraqi territory in the Kurdistan Region since the mid-1990s to fight the PKK, increasing its cross-border footprint in recent years.
Baghdad has lodged formal protests on a number of occasions about violations of its territory by Turkish forces and aircraft, but to no avail and in recent years, Ankara has stepped up its airstrikes in the Kurdistan Region, killing top operatives of the PKK.