October 26, 2016

Kurdish PKK warns Turkey of long fight for freedom

The PKK operates from mountain bases in northern Iraq

The Kurdish rebel PKK movement has told the BBC that it is ready to intensify its fight against Turkey because Ankara is trying to make it surrender, the BBC reports.

Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Cemil Bayik said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was “escalating this war”.

“The Kurds will defend themselves to the end, so long as this is the Turkish approach – of course the PKK will escalate the war,” he said.

Separately, an aide to Mr Erdogan ruled out any negotiations with the PKK.

Turkish presidential adviser Ilnur Cevik told the BBC’s Mark Lowen that the PKK was “trying to create a separate state in Turkey – this is outright secession”.

When asked if there was any chance of negotiation, he replied: “At the moment, no”.

He added that Mr Erdogan had popular support for the military campaign.

Mr Bayik, however, insisted that “we don’t want to separate from Turkey and set up a state”.

“We don’t want to divide Turkey. We want to live within the borders of Turkey on our own land freely… The struggle will continue until the Kurds’ innate rights are accepted.”

He said Turkish intransigence had made the PKK ready to escalate the conflict “not only in Kurdistan, but in the rest of Turkey as well”.

A two-year-old Turkey-PKK ceasefire broke down last July. Since then clashes have escalated, including Turkish air force strikes against PKK bases in northern Iraq.

Turkey, the EU and US refer to the PKK as a terrorist organisation. The military has imposed curfews in parts of Kurdish-majority south-eastern Turkey.

According to the International Crisis Group, more than 340 members of Turkey’s security forces have since been killed, along with at least 300 Kurdish fighters and more than 200 civilians.

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