WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The US defense department said on Thursday that it supports concerns of the Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi about the presence of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq, particularly in the Shingal region.
"I mean, Prime Minister Abadi, Iraq is a sovereign government," said Department of Defense Press Secretary Peter Cook. "Prime Minister Abadi speaks on behalf of the Iraqi government. And the PKK, as you know, is a terrorist organization, designated by the United States."
Iraqi PM Abadi told Rudaw at a press conference on Tuesday that his government did not support the PKK and did not want the group to use his country for attacks against Turkey.
"Certainly, the PKK is a non-Iraqi organization, it is a Turkish organization," Abadi told Rudaw's Baghdad correspondent Bahman Hassan. "We are not supporting the PKK and the Iraqi constitution absolutely forbids the use of any organizations to launch attacks against its neighbors, and we abide by that."
"So we do not allow any party to use Iraqi soil to stage attacks against Turkey." Abadi added.
He said: "If the PKK were political asylees our treatment with them would be different, but if they are an armed group aiming to use Iraqi territories to destabilize Turkey, we will not agree to that in any form."
The US is supportive of Abadi's position, said Cook, "Again, Iraq is a sovereign government. The prime minister has spoken on this issue. And we're supportive of what Prime Minister Abadi has had to say."
The Kurdish government also asked the PKK, who has kept some fighters in Shingal since August 2014, to leave the area to avoid further conflict and on Thursday, Muhammad Amin Penjweni, a politician close to the PKK said: "The PKK and the Kurdistan Region have reached an agreement on pulling out the forces of the People's Defence Force (HPG) from Sinjar,"