Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) today rejected a claim by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the two countries were planning to launch a joint military operation against Kurdish militants in the region, the Iranian media reported. “We have not planned any operations outside the Islamic Republic of Iran’s borders,” said a statement released by the Guards on Tuesday. “However, we will act aggressively against any individual or group that seek to infiltrate into the Iranian territory for subversive or terrorist activities,” the statement added. It also stressed that while Iran has no plans for “extensive operations” in the region, it will respond with force against rebel groups in the Iraqi Kurdistan if they attempt to destabilize the Islamic Republic. According to I.R.G.C.-affiliated Fars News Agency, regional countries back some Kurdish rebel groups in northern Iraq against the Iranian security forces.

Comment: The I.R.G.C. statement was a surprising rebuke of the Turkish president, who said Monday that Ankara and Tehran have discussed possible joint military operations against Kurdish militant organizations in northern Iraq. Erdogan said the plan was discussed in meetings between Turkish leaders and the high-profile Iranian delegation that visited Ankara last week. "Joint action against terrorist groups that have become a threat is always on the agenda. This issue has been discussed between the two military chiefs, and I discussed more broadly how this should be carried out," Erdogan was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters before leaving for a visit to Jordan. Erdogan specifically mentioned about acting against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) and its Iranian offshoot Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (P.J.A.K.).

The I.R.G.C. statement indicates that although Turkey and Iran have taken steps to reconcile their differences and cooperate more on regional issues, they are unlikely to become strategic partners anytime soon.