Turkey pledged to continue its military operations against the PKK militants in northern Iraq "if Baghdad continues to overlook their presence in the region."

The Foreign Ministry said today, Thursday, that Turkey will take the necessary measures to protect the security of its borders "in the event that Iraq continues to ignore the presence of Kurdish elements on its territory."

This came two days after a Turkish air strike in northern Iraq killed two Iraqi border guards and their driver, which the Iraqi army described as a "blatant assault."

In response to the operation, the Iraqi authorities canceled a visit to the country that the Turkish Minister of Defense was supposed to pay, and summoned the ambassador of Ankara to inform him of "Iraq’s assured rejection of the attacks and violations committed by his country."

But the Turkish Foreign Ministry stressed today that the responsibility for taking the necessary measures against the militants in Iraq rests primarily with Baghdad, and called on the Iraqi authorities to cooperate with it against these militants.

The statement added that the PKK militants "have been targeting Turkey through the sites in which they have been stationed inside the Iraqi territories for many years, and that this organization is simultaneously challenging the sovereignty, territorial integrity and stability of Iraq."

The Turkish statement stressed the readiness to cooperate with Baghdad in combating the militants of this party, calling on Iraq and some regional organizations to "abandon double standards and stop making false accusations against Turkey and adopting principled positions."

Turkey has been attacking the PKK militants in the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country, and northern Iraq, where the armed group is based.

Last June, Ankara launched a ground offensive, dubbed "Operation Tiger's Claw," which resulted in Turkish forces advancing deeper into Iraq.

It is noteworthy that the Kurdish workers took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. More than 40,000 people have died in the conflict that rages mostly in southeastern Turkey.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union designate the PKK as a terrorist organization.