Turkey's Kurdish opening for Syria

SEYMUS CAKAN
Last updated 11:10 26/07/2012

Turkey shutting all border crossings with Syria in response to worsening conditions in the ongoing uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Sarah Sheffer reports.

Relevant offers

Middle East

In a blow, twin attacks on Syrian security kill at least 32 Iraqi Prime Minister orders air force strike against Islamic State inside Syria Islamic State car bomb kills more than 50 in northwest Syria Former US spy Sabrina de Sousa to be extradited for role in rendition of cleric Iraqi forces storm Mosul airport, military base to drive Islamic State from city The strange route Benjamin Netanyahu took to get from Singapore to Sydney Teen chess grand master banned for wearing a headband instead of a hijab Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls Israel a 'fake' nation, 'dirty chapter' Terrifying video of small girl being pulled alive from Syrian rubble shines light on another deadly Damascus day Gold heist: Thieves disappear after robbing jewellery store by digging 25 metre-long tunnel in Iran

Turkish security forces killed at least 15 Kurdish rebels in a raid near the country's border with Iraq after tracking them with drones and attacking them with helicopters and on the ground, officials said on Wednesday.

The drones spotted a group of Kurdish fighters who blocked roads on Monday in Hakkari province, then pinpointed them for an attack when the Kurdish fighters returned to the same area on Tuesday evening, the security officials said.

Three Turkish soldiers were injured in clashes that ensued, they said.

The region is the theatre of a 28-year-old conflict between Turkish forces and fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which in various incarnations has waged a campaign for autonomy in the largely Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

Turkey has cemented ties with the Kurdish leadership of Iraq's semi-autonomous north, where the PKK has a military presence, through trade and investment, but remains wary that the example of Kurdish self-rule in Iraq and deepening chaos in neighbouring Syria could inflame its own Kurdish conflict.

Syrian Kurdish opposition figures say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces have quit areas of Hassaka and Aleppo provinces, which border Turkey, leaving them under the control of the PKK-linked Democratic Union Party (PYD).

The head of the Syrian National Council - which aspires to political leadership of the revolt against Assad and much of whose leadership is in Turkey - said Assad's troops had lost control of some parts of those regions, but that the Syrian opposition did not endorse any Kurdish separatist project.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was quoted by the TV 24 channel on Wednesday as saying a PKK-linked Kurdish presence could give Turkey cause to intervene militarily in Syria, as it has done repeatedly in northern Iraq since that region slipped from Baghdad's grip following the 1991 Gulf War.

"The terrorist PKK organisation's cooperation with the PYD is something we cannot look upon favourably," it quoted him as saying.

"If a formation that's going to be a problem, if there is a terror operation, (if) an irritant, emerges, then intervening there would be our most natural right."

The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content