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March 18, 2018

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Turkey, Iraq plan joint offensive against Kurdish rebels

Updated Thursday, March 8, 2018 | 5:46 a.m.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey and Iraq could conduct a joint military operation against Kurdish rebels in Iraq.

Cavusoglu told reporters in Vienna during a news conference with his Austrian counterpart Thursday that the operation could start after Iraq holds its elections on May 12.

Turkey frequently launches cross-border operations into the northern Iraq in pursuit of militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, who maintain bases there.

The plans for a joint offensive follow a Turkish-Iraqi rapprochement stemming from both countries' strong opposition to a Sept. 25 referendum in Iraq's Kurdish region that resulted in a yes vote for separation from Baghdad.

Turkey is currently engaged in a cross-border offensive in Syria to drive out Kurdish fighters it considers to be an extension of the PKK.