Istanbul - Neighbours Turkey and Iran will carry out a joint operation against Kurdish rebels, state-run Anadolu news agency quoted the interior minister as saying on Wednesday.

“God willing, we will carry out a joint operation against the PKK together with Iran,” Interior Minister Sulaiman Soylu said, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party listed as a terror group by Ankara and Western allies.

Soylu did not specify which PKK bases the planned operation would target but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously said it would be against militant hideouts in Iraq.

Turkey has battled the PKK for decades, while the Iranian security forces have also fought its affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). Both groups have rear bases in neighbouring Iraq.

In 2017, Erdogan said a joint Turkish-Iranian operation against Kurdish militants was “always on the agenda”.

He added that the two countries’, military chiefs had discussed how to work against Kurdish militants, but Iran’s Revolutionary Guards denied that at the time.

The PKK has waged a three-and-a-half decade insurgency against the Turkish state seeking independence, and more recently autonomy, for Turkey’s Kurdish minority, that has left tens of thousands dead.

The Turkish military has often bombed PKK bases in Iraq’s mountainous regions.

Despite backing opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, both neighbours, which see themselves as historically powerful regional leaders, have recently been working with Syria-regime backer Russia towards a political solution to the crisis.