In a broad show of its military force, Iran launched war games on Sunday near the Iraqi Kurdistan border, according to Iranian state media. The military drills are part of the annual ‘Sacred Defense Week’ exercises held in Iran to mark the beginning of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq.
Iran conducts military drills in its northwestern region pic.twitter.com/UQ6bcKAuMf
— Press TV (@PressTV) September 24, 2017
But late Saturday Turkey also launched air strikes against what it said were terrorist targets linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) group in the Gara region of northern Iraq. Ankara said its troops had spotted PKK terrorists preparing to attack Turkish military outposts on the border with Turkey, according to Reuters.
Both moves – each of which appeared aimed at the Kurds – came one day before the Kurdish population in Iraq heads to the polls on Monday for a referendum on independence in the region. Iran and Turkey are both deeply opposed to any moves toward secession or independence from their own Kurdish populations.
Israel remains the first and only nation in the world to back Iraqi Kurdistan’s bid for independence. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement posted to Twitter earlier in the month, Israel “clearly differentiates between the PKK and the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people.”
PM Netanyahu: While Israel rejects terror in any form, it supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) September 12, 2017