Turkey to take action against PKK in Syria

Turkey to take action against PKK in Syria

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey to take action against PKK in Syria

DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Turkey has announced that it will take additional measures against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria, after news broke that the PKK’s offshoot in there has seized control of a number of villages along the Syria-Turkey border. Top civilian and military officials held a security summit yesterday to discuss developments inside Syria and along the border. 

“The activities of the separatist terrorist organization in our country and in neighboring countries have been discussed. Additional measures to be taken in every field concerning our national security were also discussed at the meeting, which reviewed work being carried out in the fight against terrorism,” read a short statement released after the nearly two-hour long meeting. It did not give further information about what measures would be taken. 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chaired the meeting, in which Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, the foreign, defense and interior ministers, and Hakan Fidan, head of the National Intelligence Organization, participated. It was the first time the government had highlighted the presence of the PKK in Syria by using the term “neighboring countries,” obviously referring to Syria along with Iraq. Turkey and Syria came to the brink of war in the late 1990s due to Damascus’ support of the PKK, which resulted in Syria’s ending its backing of the terrorist organization. 

The security meeting in Ankara came after the PKK’s offshoot in Syria, the Democratic Union of Kurdistan (PYD), seized control of three villages in the northern part of the country, posing a threat to Turkey in its long fight against terrorism. Turkey is already fighting hard against the PKK, which infiltrates the country to commit terrorist attacks. The PKK’s increasing influence along the Syrian border could open another frontline for the terrorists. 

Among potential measures Turkey could take would be increasing its military presence at certain points along the Syrian border where PYD and PKK elements seem to be increasing their activities. The military has already raised its level of alarm on the Syrian border, when its rules of engagement changed in the wake of the downing of a Turkish military jet by Syria on June 22. 

Particular attention to Qamishli

Ankara is paying particular attention to the situation in Qamishli, a small town on Turkish border adjoining Nusaybin, because the PYD has chosen it as the center of its activities. There are reports that the PYD is preparing to take over control of the town from the Syrian administration as it did in Kobane and Efrine in Aleppo and Amude in the city of al-Hasakah. 

The handover of control to the PYD coincided with the news that the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had sent Syrian Kurds to northern Syria after training them for armed conflict. Video recordings of hundreds of men in military uniform believed to be crossing the Syrian border from northern Iraq have increased concerns in Ankara. 

Jabbar Yaver, general-secretary of the Ministry of Peshmarga of the KRG denied soldiers had been sent to northern Syria, Anatolia news agency reported Wednesday. 

Measures against chemical weapons 

Turkey’s military has deployed teams specially trained to deal with chemical weapons attacks to the Syrian border, after Damascus warned that it may use such weapons in the event of an attack from outside the country, Doğan news agency reported. The chemical weapons battalion, previously based in western Turkey, had been transferred to Konya in central Turkey two months ago, and one group of personnel has now been moved to the Syrian border area.