Turkey Hits Kurds with Airstrikes

Mourners chant slogans during the funeral of four female Kurdish fighters, killed in the fighting with the militants of the Islamic State in Kobani, Syria, at a cemetery in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border. Oct. 14, 2014. (Photo: AP)

ANKARA (AP)—Turkish warplanes have struck suspected Kurdish positions in southeastern Turkey, media reports said Tuesday, the first major airstrikes against Kurds since peace talks began two years ago to end 30 years of conflict.

The attack comes amid heightened tensions in Turkey over Islamic State militants’ advance on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. Kurds in Turkey accuse the government of standing idly by while Syrian Kurds are being slaughtered in the besieged town across the border, while at the same time not allowing Kurds from Turkey to cross over the border to help in the fight.

The return to violence between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, illustrates the complicated position Turkey faces as it negotiates its role with the U.S. and NATO allies fighting the Islamic State extremists.

The PKK and affiliated groups, including fighters defending Kobani, are an important force on the ground in both Iraq and Syria fighting the Islamic State group. But Turkey still views the PKK as a dangerous terrorist adversary.

Turkey has said it won’t join the fight against the Islamic State militants unless the U.S.-led coalition also targets Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Turkish media had varying accounts of the strikes by Turkey’s air force on Monday, but the private Dogan news agency said Turkish F-16 jets hit PKK targets in Hakkari province, near the border with Iraq.

Asked about the report, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkish forces took the “necessary measure” following intense “harassing fire” by Kurdish fighters on a military outpost.

“It is impossible for us to tolerate or to placate these [attacks],” Davutoglu said.

A military statement said Tuesday that the Kurdish fighters had attacked the outpost in Hakkari with long barreled weapons on Monday, prompting the military to retaliate using armored vehicles. The statement made no mention of any airstrikes. An earlier statement said the armed forces had responded “in the strongest way” to an attack.

Firat news agency, which is close to the PKK, confirmed the airstrikes, saying at least five locations around Hakkari were targeted. The agency had a different version of events, however, saying the military had attacked rebel fighters in the region with artillery for three days, forcing the PKK to retaliate by firing at a military unit.

Kurdish leaders, including jailed PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan, have warned that the fall of Kobani would end the peace process, while PKK commander Cemal Bayik has been quoted in Turkish media as saying that some Kurdish fighters who had withdrawn from Turkish territory as part of the peace efforts have now returned to Turkey.

In a statement carried by Firat news, the PKK said Monday’s airstrikes amounted to an infringement of a cease fire that they unilaterally declared in March 2013, with the tacit support of the Turkish government.

Peace talks began in late 2012.

Earlier, Davutoglu accused Kurds of using the peace process as a means to “blackmail” Turkey into taking action to defend Kobani, but said his government is determined to press ahead with efforts to bring about peace.

More than 30 people were killed last week as Kurds, angered at what they said was a Turkish impediment to efforts to defend Kobani, clashed with police and supporters of an Islamist group in cities across Turkey. The dead included at least two police officers, according to Turkish authorities.

“We said to them there are tens of thousands of (Kurdish) youths wanting to fight (the Islamic State group). Open the door, and we would drown them in our spit. But they would not allow it,” Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party said Tuesday.

The PKK has fought Turkey for autonomy for Kurds in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.

Kurds, who make up an estimated 20 percent of Turkey’s 75 million people, have faced decades of discrimination, including restrictions on the use of their language.


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  1. Abe Issa said:

    I am sure that it comes as no surprise to anyone that Turkey has no intention to help defeat or at least stop the aggression of their IS brothers.

  2. Areg said:

    Stop arming Turkey with F-16 jets ans armaments. Stop the Genocide of the Kurds as you did not stop the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians.
    ISIS is a group created by Turkey, financed and sponsored by Turkey. Turkey is supplying weapons to ISIS to combat the Syrian government and attack the Christians.

  3. GeorgeMardig said:

    Kurds should revolt in Turkey and claim independence. For the long run, is the only way to guarnatee and protect the interest of the Kurdish people. Kurds should remeber, Turkey is not trustworthy

  4. Art said:

    Kurds alone can’t do anything against the Turks. It is time for all people who have suffered losses because of Turkey to synchronize their efforts. Greeks Syrians Assyrians Armenians Kurds… IF they are serious about their claims, their future and their rights.

    • Janapar said:

      Only a huge IS problem, whereby the west has to militarily rescue Turkey from the brink, would create a chance for Armenia and the Kurds to raise their voices. Of course we do not wish to see such a large scale Middle East War and so the desire to keep conflicts small and local will forever curtail the aspirations of an independent Kurdistan and a Greater Armenia.

      • edward demian said:

        Turkey has become too Islamic , too ambitious, too aggressive and too oppressive. Soon, it will overstep its bounds and make a big mistake. Only with the breakup of Turkey lies Peace and stability. These Muslim states need to be small, powerless and busy bickering with each other. If ever we are going to have any peace. In such a scenario, with the West angry at Turkey, the US will play the “Wilsonian Mandate” card and make the region safe for Oil transport. Armenia, Kurdistan, Pontus, Alawistan, Assoristan, Tartaristan, Alanistan, etc. and a small place for the real Turks.

    • Alex Postallian said:

      Now we realize what a terrible enemy,jerky turkey,is to the U.S..For years we have been mislead,lied to,by our politicians,diplomats,being BRIBED,blinking at the real situation,in jerky turkey..jerky self erupted,their own volcano,to prove the truth…