Syria supporting PKK, says intelligence report
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
This file photo shows protestors carrying posters of Bashar al-Assad and Öcalan during a demonstration in front of the Syrian embassy in Beirut on Oct 30, 2011. Hürriyet photo
An intelligence report submitted to the Turkish government suggests that the disobedient Syrian leadership has revived its support to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in retaliation for pressure from Ankara on Bashar al-Assad to step down, Hürriyet Daily News has learned from reliable sources.
PKK members can move freely inside Syria, and are allowed to bear arms and launch propaganda campaigns against Turkey, the report states, showing a clear change in Damascus’ policies, which had banned the PKK’s activities in 1999 as a result of a bilateral agreement with Turkey.
Back to 1990s
Syria gave immense support to the PKK during the 1990s in an attempt to destabilize Turkey, with which its ties were strained over Syria’s claim to Hatay and the waters of the Euphrates. Apart from sheltering Abdullah Öcalan, the now-imprisoned leader of the PKK, who controlled the PKK from Damascus for years, Syria also allowed PKK terrorists to train in Syrian territory, from where they infiltrated Turkey to commit attacks.
The intelligence report, which was submitted to some government institutions, also states that the PKK body in Syria was much better organized than that in northern Iraq. It also says that the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political offshoot of the PKK in Syria, has recently re-established strong ties with the PKK and launched a propaganda campaign against Turkey. It also added that the PKK elements in Syria have been in close cooperation to stop mass revolts against the al-Assad regime in northern Syria, particularly in Aleppo, whose residents have close ties with Turkey.
The mobility of some PKK groups has also been observed by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government and this has appeared on the agenda of security meetings between Ankara and Arbil. Although Turkey has not yet officially raised this issue as a diplomatic problem with Syria, diplomatic sources said it could be on the agenda for the April 1 meeting of the Friends of Syria group.