( Ihlas ) - We hope these operations against Iraqi cities are not repeated. We can not stand by silently in the face of such threats," said Selahaddin Al Ubeydi, a Mahdi Army leader talking to IHA in the Iraqi city of Najaf on Tuesday about a possible Turkish cross-border military operation into northern Iraq.
The Turkish army has launched operations in the east and southeast of Turkey against rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who have since the advent of spring been crossing into Turkey from their bases in northern Iraq through the mountains.
Iraq lodged an official complaint with Turkey on Saturday claiming it had bombarded Iraq's northern Kurdish region and warning that the attack against Kurdish rebels could destabilize the region.
Turkey was against the war that was started in Iraq, we were very happy for that. Turkey did not permit the use of its bases for an attack on Iraq, we were very happy for that as well. These latest events have saddened us, however," he said.
We hope these operations against Iraqi cities are not repeated. We can not stand silent in the face of such threats. I want to call on the Turkish people. Support the success of your brothers in Iraq and continued relations between our countries. Kurdish people are a part of Iraq. It is our duty to defend them.
The Mahdi Armey leader emphasized Iraq's friendship with Turkey, saying, We respect Turkey's people, land, and its security. We can bring about a meeting for between all the sides. The Sadr group has very good relations with Turks and Kurdish people and we want this to continue.
Al Ubeydi said that he hoped cross-border military action would not be used as a way of resolving any problems.
"In such a situation, we would have to protect Iraqi borders and land. We expect countries of the world to respect the land and the borders of Iraq," he added.
The Turkish army is pushing for a military incursion into neighboring northern Iraq, where PKK rebels enjoy safe haven and, Turkish officials charge, obtain weapons and explosives for attacks on Turkish targets across the border.