Turkey Says Agreed with Iran to Continue Operations Against PKK, Iran Says No Joint Operation

ANKARA, March 20 (Reuters) – Turkey said on Wednesday Turkish and Iranian military commanders had agreed to continue “simultaneous and coordinated operations” against Kurdish militants, though Iran‘s armed forces later said there were no joint operations.

Earlier this week Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey and Iran were carrying out a joint operation against Kurdish militants. He described it as the first of its kind, but an anIranian source said Iran‘s armed forces were not part of the operation.

On Wednesday, the Turkish interior ministry said Turkish Gendarme Commander Arif Cetin and Iranian Border Forces Commander Qassem Rezai had agreed to continue “simultaneous and coordinated operations” for “some time” in a phone call.

In a separate phone call, Turkish and Iranian deputy interior ministers welcomed the stage reached in the operations, according to the interior ministry.

A spokesman for Iran‘s armed forces later said there were no joint operations against militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) between Turkey and Iran near the border.

It was not clear where the operation was taking place or why the two countries were offering different accounts.

The PKK, which has waged an insurgency for autonomy in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast since 1984, is deemed a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Bozorgmehr Saharafedin; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu Editing by Ali Kucukgocmen and Mark Heinrich)