US recognizes Turkey’s right to self-defense against outlawed PKK
WASHINGTON - Anadolu Agency
AP photoThe State Department on July 27 denied Turkey’s attacks on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were linked to a mutual understanding with Washington, after U.S.-led anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces were granted permission to use Turkish bases to conduct airstrikes, while also recognizing Turkey’s right to self-defense.
“I understand the coincidence of all of this, but it is just that,” spokesman John Kirby told reporters, adding Turkey’s most recent strikes were in retaliation to recent attacks by the PKK.
“Turkey has continued to come under attack by PKK terrorists, and we recognize their right to defend themselves against those attacks,” he said.
Following last week’s suicide bombing in the southeastern town of Suruç that killed 32 people, tensions have risen between the Turkish state and the PKK, with the latter stepping up attacks on police and troops while Turkish warplanes have targeted the group’s camps and anti-terror police have rounded up suspected supporters.
On July 24 night and in the early hours of July 25, Turkish jets bombed PKK camps in northern Iraq for the first time in two-and-a-half years. The strikes were carried out in retaliation to a series of attacks blamed on the outlawed group.
Turkish jets again on July 26 hit PKK targets inside and outside Turkey.
The strikes came just days after Ankara agreed to allow the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition use bases inside Turkey, including the strategic İncirlik air base, to carry out airstrikes against ISIL.
Kirby said he was not sure if the airstrikes against the PKK have concluded, referring questions to the Turkish government.
“What we’re trying to focus on here is a coalition to go after ISIL,” he said. “I recognize that in some cases, the PKK has fought against ISIL, but they are a foreign terrorist organization [FTO]; we’ve designated them as an FTO.
“And our fight against ISIL is not in cooperation with, coordination with or communication with the PKK,” he said.
Regarding requests for a “no-fly zone” in northern Syria, Kirby said ongoing coalition efforts were “almost having the same effect as if there was one, because only coalition aircraft are occupying that airspace.
“There is no opposition in the air, when coalition aircraft are flying in that part of Syria. The Assad regime is not challenging us; ISIL doesn’t have airplanes,” he said, in reference to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.