Turkey accuses US of supporting PKK after Turkish killings in Iraq
ANKARA, Turkey Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan testified in the United States, accusing him of supporting Kurdish militants on Monday, days after Turkish troops found the bodies of 13 Turkish soldiers, police and civilians abducted by Kurdish insurgents in a cave complex in northern Iraq.
Speaking to supporters of his ruling party in the Black Sea town of Rize, Erdogan also targeted a statement by the US State Department which lamented the deaths of the hostages, but added that the US would condemn these deaths “in the strongest possible terms” if it is confirmed that they died at the hands of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
“Didn’t you say that you do not support the PKK, the YPG or the PYD? You are with them and behind them outright,” Erdogan said, referring to Syrian Kurdish groups linked to the PKK, that the Turkey considers terrorists. but who allied with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State.
“If we are together in NATO, and if we want to continue our (alliance) in NATO, you have to be sincere with us,” Erdogan said. “You must not side with the terrorists. You must be on our side.”
On Monday, Turkey summoned US Ambassador David Satterfield to the Foreign Ministry and shared Ankara’s reaction to the US statement “in the strongest possible way,” the ministry spokesman said, Hami Aksoy.
The victims were discovered in a cave complex in the Gara region, near the Turkish border, during an operation against the PKK, launched on February 10, which aimed to free the hostages.
Twelve of the victims were shot in the head and one died of a shoulder injury, the country’s defense minister said on Sunday. All 13 have been kidnapped in Turkey over the past five or six years.
Erdogan said 51 PKK militants were killed during the offensive and promised to continue cross-border offensives against the PKK in Iraq and against militants based in Syria.
“Neither Qandil, nor Sinjar, nor Syria at the moment, no place where the terrorists are located is safe for them,” Erdogan said, referring to areas in northern Iraq where the PKK maintains bases. “We have the power, the capacity and the determination to defeat terrorists everywhere.”
Turkish authorities, meanwhile, have arrested more than 700 people with suspected links to the PKK, including local leaders of the main pro-Kurdish political party, the third largest party in the Turkish parliament, the ministry said. ‘Interior. The suspects were detained during operations in 40 provinces, following the execution of hostages.
Erdogan’s government, which accuses the People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, of having links with the PKK, has cracked down on the movement for the past five years, removing elected mayors from office and jailing officials. thousands of members, including its former president. , Selahattin Demirtas.
In a statement released by the PKK-linked Firat News Agency, the PKK said “prisoners of war” made up of members of the Turkish security forces and the Turkish intelligence agency were killed as a result of the airstrikes Turkish.
Three Turkish soldiers also died during the hostage release operation and three others were injured, the defense ministry said.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the PKK, designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, launched an insurgency in the Kurdish-majority Kurdish southeast region in 1984.
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