Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Erdogan threatens to ‘crush the head’ of Kurdish militants in Syria

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday vowed to expand military operations against Kurdish militants in Syria.

This came days after Turkish military started an offensive targeting an outlawed Kurdish group in Iraq’s north.

Erdogan in Ankara referring to the Syrian Kurdish militia and the People’s Defence Units, YPG, said “sooner or later, we will also crush the head of the terrorist group preparing to grow in parts of Syria.

“God willing, soon there will be no place called Qandil,” Erdogan told his ruling party members in parliament, referring to the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq where the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is headquartered.

Turkey considered the PKK and YPG both linked terrorist groups and an existential threat to its national security.

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Ankara often targeted the PKK in Iraq and inside Turkey and controlled parts of northern Syria along its border following military operations against the YPG and U.S. and Russian brokered ceasefires.

On Monday, Turkey started another operation targeting the PKK in northern Iraq, the first large offensive since February when jets and artillery hit several different Kurdish militant locations in northern Syria and Iraq.

Erdogan thanked the Iraqi government for coordinating the operation with Turkey but hinted at new military operations against the PKK and also the YPG in Syria.

“Unfortunately, no matter what we do inside [the country], we could not completely root out the terrorists who gathered outside our border. The mosquitoes bred constantly because the swamp did not dry out,” Erdogan added.

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The Turkish president’s harshest remarks in a long time also came hours after a roadside blast killed one civil servant and injured at least four others in the north-western the city of Bursa, some 150 kilometres to the south-west of Istanbul.

Erdogan said it was a terrorist attack, without naming any group.

One prison guard was killed and another was critically wounded after the bus carrying them was hit when a bomb went off, Bursa Governor Yakup Canbolat told reporters.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack.

The authorities assess that a remote-control device was used to detonate it as the bus was passing, Canbolat said.

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Some residential buildings in the neighbourhood were damaged, but there were no civilian casualties, the governor added.

Authorities had blamed similar attacks in the past on PKK.

The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. It has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

The conflict, which has been going on since 1984, has so far cost tens of thousands of lives. A ceasefire failed in 2015.

dpa/NAN

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