US holds PKK responsible for Gara massacre
The United States has affirmed that PKK bears responsibility for the slaughter of 13 Turkish nationals in a cave in northern Iraq after Turkey’s strong reaction against the State Department’s initial statement which condemned the terror organization on the condition that the news about the incident was confirmed.
“The Secretary expressed condolences for the deaths of Turkish hostages in northern Iraq and affirmed our view that PKK terrorists bear responsibility,” said a statement issued by the U.S. State Department on the phone conversation between U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on late Feb. 15.
This was the first contact established between the top Turkish and American diplomats after the new U.S. administration took office on Jan. 20 amid Turkey’s strong reaction against the conditional condemnation by the U.S. State Department about the PKK’s killing of 13 Turkish nationals in the northern Iraqi cave.
The phone conversation between the two diplomats came around four weeks after the inauguration of President Joe Biden’s administration.
According to diplomatic sources, Çavuşoğlu and Blinken discussed a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, including FETÖ – the group behind the defeated coup attempt of 2016 – the YPG/PKK terror group, Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system, as well as issues regarding tension in Syria and eastern Mediterranean.
During the meeting, they agreed to develop an “open and sincere” dialogue between Turkey and the U.S.’s new Biden administration based on mutual respect and to discuss in detail all issues on the agenda in the coming days, sources said.
The phone conversation came on the same day the U.S. condemned the killing of 13 Turkish nationals while raising questions on the authenticity of news if the nationals were indeed killed by the PKK, which Turkey openly criticized.
Çavuşoğlu expressed “discomfort” over this statement as the Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador to Ankara David Satterfield to convey Turkey’s reaction to it “in the strongest terms.”
“Secretary Blinken emphasized the longstanding importance of the U.S.-Turkish bilateral relationship, our shared interest in countering terrorism, and the importance of democratic institutions, inclusive governance, and respect for human rights,” U.S. Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
“Both sides pledged to strengthen cooperation and support for a political resolution to the conflict in Syria,” he added.
Satterfield visits Defense Ministry
Satterfield paid a separate visit to Turkey’s Defense Ministry later on Feb. 15 to talk about the PKK’s massacre of 13 Turkish nationals during the Turkish army’s operation against the terrorists’ hideouts in Gara region of northern Iraq.
The Defense Ministry informed that Satterfield confirmed that the U.S. holds the terrorist group PKK responsible for the massacre at the meeting with Turkish officials.
The ambassador offered his condolences over the soldiers killed in Turkey’s anti-terror operation in Gara and the 13 citizens killed by PKK terrorists, the ministry said.