Turkish defense minister said on Sunday that 13 Turks were kidnapped and executed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq after Ankara launched a military operation against the party earlier in February .
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that Washington must stop supporting Kurdish “terrorists”, accusing the United States of standing “behind the Kurdish militants who killed Turkish forces in Iraq.”
“Weren’t you on the side of the terrorists? Weren’t you on the side of the PKK and the YPG?” Erdogan called in the White House during the AK party congress, referring to the Syrian Kurdish force YPG also known as the People’s Protection Units being a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
“If we are with you in NATO, you will not support the terrorists. If you want to participate, you will be with us,” he continued.
Speaking to members of his party, the president added that Washington’s earlier statement on slain Turkish militants was “a joke”.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Sunday that 13 previously kidnapped Turks, including police officers, were shot dead by militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The minister also said three Turkish soldiers were killed during Ankara’s military operation against the group, which was launched on February 10 in the northern Iraq’a Gara region. Three other soldiers were also injured, Akar added, noting that 48 PKK militants were killed by Ankara during the military operation. Turkey said the offensive was launched to secure the country’s border and search for people who had previously been kidnapped by the PKK.
Following the minister’s remarks, the US State Department issued a statement deploring “the death of Turkish citizens in the Iraqi Kurdistan region”.
“We support our NATO ally Turkey and extend our condolences to the families of those lost in recent fighting. If the reports of the deaths of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization, are confirmed, we condemn this action in the strongest terms, ”the ministry said.
The PKK has been called a “terrorist” organization by Turkey, the United States, the European Union and a number of other states.
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