Turkish airstrikes against PKK in Iraq after attack in Ankara

Turkish airstrikes against PKK in Iraq after attack in Ankara

2023-10-01 11:12:00

Turkey on Sunday warned “terrorists” and carried out airstrikes against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan, a few hours after a suicide attack by the organization, which left two people injured in the heart of the capital, Ankara.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a “terrorist organization” by Ankara and its Western allies including the EU, claimed responsibility for the attack with the ANF press agency, which is close to it.

The suicide attack targeted the police headquarters. Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya told the press that one of the two Ankara attackers blew himself up and the other was shot “in the head.”

This is the first attack for which the PKK has claimed responsibility since September 2022 when it killed a police officer.

Turkish strikes targeted several sectors of autonomous Kurdistan in northern Iraq on Sunday evening, a local official told AFP, with Ankara confirming that it had targeted “20 targets” used by Turkish Kurdish PKK fighters.

“Turkish army planes bombed areas… of the Bradost region around 9:20 p.m. (6:20 p.m. GMT), just as they bombed the village of Badran,” mayor Ihsan Chelabi told AFP. from the locality of Sidakan, located not far from the borders with Turkey and Iran.

In a statement, the Turkish Defense Ministry recognized an “air operation” in northern Iraq to “neutralize the PKK”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned earlier that “the scoundrels who threaten the peace and security of citizens have not achieved their goals and will never achieve them.”

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Waiting at the EU door

The head of state, who addressed the deputies for their inaugural session, also attacked Europe.

“Turkey no longer expects anything from the European Union which has kept us waiting at its door for 40 years,” said the head of state before the inaugural session of Parliament.

“We have kept all the promises we made to the EU but they have kept almost none of theirs” he denounced, adding that he will not “tolerate new demands or conditions to the process of accession” of Turkey.

“If they intend to end the accession process which only exists on paper, that is their decision.”

The president’s anger stems from a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights which this week found Turkey guilty of convicting a man of terrorism, based solely on his use of the encrypted messaging application ByLock .

High power explosion

The targeted police headquarters, located in the same interior ministry compound, is close to parliament.

The high-power explosion was heard several kilometers away: a video recorded by a surveillance camera shows a gray vehicle slowly parking in front of the police headquarters. The front passenger gets out and walks forward, gun in hand, shoots and blows himself up in front of the police officer’s booth on duty.

A second man rushes in turn but disappears from the image before being killed by the police.

Mr. Yerlikaya called on the press to stop broadcasting images of the attack on social networks.

The PKK is at the heart of the controversy between Turkey and Sweden, over the latter’s entry into NATO, which the Turkish Parliament, which resumed its work on Sunday, is supposed to validate after seventeen months of waiting. .

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Ambiguous position

Since May 2022, Turkey has been dragging its feet to confirm the entry of this Scandinavian country by arguing for its clemency towards “terrorists” and Kurdish movements.

Mr. Erdogan maintains an ambiguous position by arguing that Parliament is sovereign and that only it can decide, or not, to lift this veto.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson quickly assured that his country “once again confirms its commitment to long-term cooperation with Turkey in the fight against terrorism.”

Many foreign officials also gave their support to Turkey, expressing their “solidarity” and condemning the attack, starting with the European Union: Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said he was “shocked”.

Ankara was the scene of numerous and violent attacks during the years 2015-2016 claimed by the Kurdish separatists of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or by the Islamic State group.

During the most recent one, in March 2016, a car bomb in the central district of Kizilay left 38 dead and 125 injured. The attack was attributed to TAK, a small radical group close to the PKK.

In October 2015, an attack in front of Ankara central station attributed to ISIS left 109 people dead.

The last attack recorded on Turkish territory on November 13, 2022, in a shopping street in Istanbul (six dead, 81 injured), was not claimed but was attributed to the PKK by the authorities.

01/10/2023 23:55:04 – Ankara (AFP) – © 2023 AFP

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