Turkey seizes weapons with erased serial numbers from PKK
ANKARATurkish security forces have seized weapons with erased serial numbers during security operations carried out against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The authorities have been checking the weapons ever since the United States’ decision to arm the Syrian Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) in their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The U.S. authorities started to share the serial numbers of the weapons supplied to the YPG with Turkey, upon Ankara’s concern that the weapons may end up in the hands of the PKK.
However, Turkish officials are carrying out additional efforts on the field in order to make sure that the weapons don’t reach the PKK, daily Milliyet reported on June 21.
During an operation carried out in the Şemdinli district of the southeastern province of Hakkari last weekend, security forces reportedly seized an AT-4 anti-tank weapon with erased license numbers, as well as a number of other confiscated weapons. It was previously reported in the U.S. media that 1,000 AT-4s were among the weapons sent to the YPG.
Defense Minister Fikri Işık said the issue will be brought to the agenda during the NATO Defense Ministers’ Meeting at the end of June, where he will convey Ankara’s concerns to his U.S. counterpart Jim Mattis.
The U.S. is reportedly giving information on every step it takes in Syria to Turkey, in a bid to assuage Ankara’s concerns. Accordingly, a control mechanism was established in order to prevent weapons sent for the operation to liberate Raqqa from ISIL from crossing the border.
Daily Milliyet reported that Turkish security forces are trying to determine whether the serial numbers were deleted by PKK militants or by others before the weapons reached the outlawed group.
U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, previously said Mattis wrote a detailed letter to Işık last week to provide a “routine update” on U.S. efforts in Syria.
He also said he discussed the issue with Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar.