Iraqi Kurdistan urges Turkey to halt PKK bombardment

A PKK militant collects pieces of metal as he inspects a crater reportedly caused by a Turkish air strike in the Qandil mountain, the PKK stronghold in northern Iraq, on July 29, 2015 (AFP Photo/Safin Hamed)

Washington (AFP) - Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region urged Turkey on Friday to halt its air strikes against PKK guerrilla bases on its territory and called for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

On a visit to Washington, Kurdistan's head of foreign relations, Falah Mustafa, criticized the PKK for abandoning its ceasefire but said bombarding them was not the answer.

"Of course we do not want our country to be bombarded and we don't believe it will help solve this situation," he told reporters.

"It will only escalate the tension," he warned. "Therefore we urge both sides to go back to the ceasefire."

"Yes, we do not agree with the actions of the PKK recently, but that doesn't mean that the response should be through bombardment."

"We believe that there is no military solution to such kind of problems. The best way forward would be peace and talks."

Mustafa said the Kurdistan Regional Government was already struggling to assist refugees fleeing the so-called Islamic State group, and that new fighting between Turkey and the PKK would not help.

He welcomed Turkey's decision to cooperate more closely with the US-led coalition fighting the IS jihadists, but said its conflict with the PKK guerrillas was another matter.

And he admitted Turkey had not informed his government about the latest cross-border strikes against PKK bases on Iraqi Kurdish territory until after they had begun.