Turkey has right to defend against PKK, but deal with US focuses on ISIL, Obama says
AFP photoTurkey is legitimate in defending itself against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), U.S. President Barack Obama has said, while stressing that an agreement between Washington and Ankara is “carefully bound” around the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.
“Well, we’ve discussed with the Turks our strong view that ISIL poses the largest threat to the region and we have to stay focused, [and our view is] that to the extent the PKK engages in attacks against Turkish targets, it is legitimate for the Turks to try to defend themselves,” Obama said while speaking to a group of 10 reporters at the White House on Aug. 5, according to the Huffington Post. “But the agreement that we are working on is carefully bound around: How do we close off that border to foreign fighters entering into Syria? And everything we do will be based on that issue.”
Turkey launched a small aerial military campaign against ISIL positions inside Syria on July 24 in retaliation for a suicide bombing allegedly perpetrated by the jihadist organization in the southeastern district of Suruç on July 20 that killed 32 socialist youth activists and wounded dozens more. Since then, however, Turkish jets have been focusing their attacks on PKK positions in northern Iraq.
The United States had officially asked Turkey to stop its independent aerial strikes against ISIL until it actively joins an international coalition so as to ensure coordination between the Turkish army and coalition members, according to a Western diplomat speaking to a group of journalists in Ankara on Aug. 6.
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