Turkey: Foreign snipers among PKK militants
DHA photoSnipers of foreign nationality have been killed fighting for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Southeast Anatolia against government forces, Turkish officials have claimed.
“There have been foreign snipers. That is true as our prime minister said. However, media reports citing snipers from the nationality you’ve stated are all speculation and baseless. We do not disclose information about their nationalities,” Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala said Feb. 2 when asked to comment on several media reports in several dailies that cited a counterterrorism operation which allegedly killed a Serbian sniper hired by the PKK in Cizre, a district in the southeastern province of Şırnak.
The Turkish administration discloses no information about the nationalities of foreign snipers taking into account the sensitivities in regard to the country’s foreign policy, Ala said.
"We do not reveal information on nationalities [of militants or snipers killed in the region]. The situation in Syria speaks for itself. There may be infiltration to Turkey from there. We take necessary measures for border security, but arrests may come after illegal crossings. We sometimes make statements taking into account our foreign policy, however, there is no ground to make that kind of statement at the moment,” Ala said.
The Serbian Embassy to Turkey told CNN Türk that Serbia strongly opposes the participation of its citizens in armed conflicts in other countries and that the Serbian administration passed a law that would heavily punish those who engage in violent acts outside its borders.
“The Republic of Serbia strongly opposes the participation of its citizens in armed conflicts in third-party countries. The National Assembly of Republic of Serbia passed a law to punish those engaging in such activities,” the embassy said.
Daily Yeni Şafak said in an unconfirmed story published on the daily on Jan. 30 that a Serbian-origin sniper hired by the outlawed organization was captured in Cizre.
The administrative statement by Ala came hours after daily Vatan reported on Feb. 2 that a Serbian sniper linked to the PKK was killed and another was captured alive in Cizre, claiming at least five other hit men are currently operating in southeastern Turkey.
Last week, a reporter for state news agency Anadolu Agency posted a picture of a purported Serbian sniper in the southeast, but the photo turned out to be a picture of American actor Terence Jay from the movie “Green Street Hooligans.”
Another alleged Serbian sniper was captured and brought to the Şırnak Police Department Counterterrorism Unit for interrogation, the daily said.
The daily cited reports from intelligence units that suggested the snipers hired by the PKK and at least five other foreign hitmen currently clashing with Turkish security forces in Turkey’s violence-stricken southeastern provinces.
“Many foreign snipers were identified during the operations,” Davutoğlu told reporters during his official trip to the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
Daily Vatan also reported a claim by security expert Mete Yarar, alleging that a similar case recently took place in another district of Şırnak.
“A sniper of European origin infiltrated Silopi from Kobane, martyred three of our security officials and fled back,” Yarar said, adding the assassin was later killed in Syria while fighting against the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Turkish security forces killed five snipers from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) late January 2015, according to media reports citing intelligence units.
Reports indicate that five snipers, including two female snipers, were killed after the Turkish military received intelligence that 13 snipers operating at rural posts of the group infiltrated Turkey following the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) siege of the Syrian border town of Kobane in late 2014.
Accordingly, eight snipers were based in Sur, a district in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, and three snipers were based in Cizre, a district in the southeastern province of Şırnak. Two other snipers were based in Silopi, another district in Şırnak.