U.S. denies understanding with Turkey about PKK airstrikes 7/28/2015
U.S. denies understanding with Turkey about PKK airstrikes
Ekurd Daily - WASHINGTON — The State Department on Monday denied that Turkey’s attacks on outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are linked to a mutual understanding with Washington after U.S.-led anti-Islamic State forces were allowed to use Turkish bases to conduct airstrikes. “
I understand the coincidence of all of this, but it is just that,” spokesman John Kirby told reporters, adding that the strikes were “in retaliation for recent attacks by the PKK that Turkey conducted these most recent strikes.
Kirby described the pro-Kurdish PKK rebel group as a “terrorist” group, saying Turkey had the right to fight the group.
“Turkey has continued to come under attack by PKK terrorists, and we recognize their right to defend themselves against those attacks,” he added. we recognize their right to defend themselves against those attacks. And it was in retaliation for recent attacks by the PKK that Turkey conducted these most recent strikes.”
The PKK is considered as ‘terrorist’ organization by Ankara and U.S. The PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union’s terror list.
Turkey has resumed bombing the PKK targets in Iraqi Kurdistan after two year-long ceasefire, a development that has raised questions over the future of a Kurdish “peace process” initiated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist-leaning leader.
Following last week’s Islamic State suicide bombing in the Kurdish town of Suruc in Turkish Kurdistan that killed 32 activists, tensions have risen between the Turkish state and the PKK, with the latter stepping up attacks on police and troops while Turkish warplanes target the group’s camps and police round up suspected supporters.
Over the weekend, Turkish jets bombed PKK camps in Iraqi Kurdistan for the first time in two-and-a-half years. The strikes were carried out in retaliation for a series of attacks blamed on the outlawed group.
The strikes came just days after Ankara agreed to allow the U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition to use bases inside Turkey, including the strategic U.S. Incirlik Air Base, to carry out airstrikes against Daesh.
Kirby said that access to the sites will allow coalition air support for northern Syria’s People’s Protection units (YPG) “to be more timely, and perhaps even more effective.”
He added that he was not sure if the airstrikes against the PKK have concluded, referring questions to the Turkish government.
“What we’re trying to foc us on here is a coalition to go after ISIL,” he said. “I recognize that in some cases, thePKK have fought against ISIL, but they are a foreign terrorist organization; we’ve designated them that as a FTO. And our fight against ISIL is not in cooperation with, coordination with or communication with the PKK.”
Regarding requests for a no-fly zone in northern Syria, Kirby said ongoing coalition efforts are “almost having the same effect as if there was one, because only coalition aircraft are occupying that airspace.”
“There is no opposition in the air, when coalition aircraft are flying in that part of Syria. The Assad regime is not challenging us; ISIL doesn’t have airplanes,” he said in reference to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Kirby further refrained from saying efforts in northern Syria against Islamic State are an attempt to develop an “ISIL-free zone”, adding “we’re going after ISIL wherever they tend to go.”
Since it was established in 1984 the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, with the aim of creating an independent Kurdish state in Turkish Kurdistan region in the southeast of the country.
But now limited its demands to to establish an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds, who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 75-million population but have long been denied basic political and cultural rights, its goal to political autonomy. A large Turkey’s Kurdish community openly sympathise with PKK rebels.