Outlawed Kurdistan Employees Social gathering (PKK) militants have killed 13 Turkish hostages, recognized largely as servicemen and policemen, in a cave complicated within the Iraqi Kurdistan Area’s mountainous Gare space the place the militants are identified to have a number of bases, Turkish officers mentioned Feb. 14.
The information has had a bombshell impact and dangers escalating ethnic tensions between Turks and the nation’s massive Kurdish minority. The hashtag “Kahrolsun PKK” — which is Turkish for “Could the PKK be damned” — was trending on Turkish Twitter as Al-Monitor went to press.
Turkish Inside Minister Suleyman Soylu vowed to avenge the victims, saying all efforts can be made to seize Murat Karayilan, the top of the PKK’s armed wing often known as the Individuals’s Protection Forces (HPG), and to “minimize him right into a thousand items.”
“If not might our faces be spat upon,” Soylu mentioned through Twitter. Turkey has been lobbying Baghdad to greenlight an operation in opposition to the PKK in Yazidi-dominated Sinjar. It could use the deaths as justification to launch such an assault, although the presence of Iran-backed Shiite militias in Sinjar complicates such plans.
Devlet Bahceli, the top of the far proper Nationalist Motion Social gathering (MHP) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s prime political ally, said, “Nothing would be the identical as earlier than after this. Everybody ought to choose their aspect. Both treason or steering. Both damnation or the individuals.”
Protection Minister Hulusi Akar mentioned in a statement that 48 PKK fighters have been killed throughout Turkey’s newest offensive in opposition to the group in Gare that was launched on Feb. 10. Three Turkish troopers have been killed through the operation. Akar mentioned that 12 of the hostages had been fatally shot within the head and one different within the shoulder.
Akar mentioned Turkey had launched the operation in “self-defense” and to confirm intelligence regarding the whereabouts of the Turkish captives.
He mentioned the operation had been accomplished and that each one forces had returned to their bases.
The governor of Malatya province, the place the our bodies have been taken for autopsies, named six troopers and two cops believed to have been taken by the militants round 5 to 6 years in the past. Three of the victims stay unidentified.
President of the Kurdistan Area of Iraq Nechirvan Barzani, an in depth ally of Erdogan, has but to touch upon the carnage in Gare. Masrour Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Authorities (KRG), has not commented both. KRG officers talking off the file to Al-Monitor mentioned they “nonetheless don’t know what occurred precisely.” Gare gives strategic entry for PKK militants infiltrating Turkey from Iraq.
The HPG has denied killing the hostages. In an announcement on its web site, the group blamed Turkey and Akar for the deaths. The HPG claimed that Turkish conflict planes had bombed the camp the place the hostage have been being held on Feb. 10. It mentioned among the Turkish troopers, policemen and members of the nationwide intelligence company MIT being held there have been killed because of the bombings and through clashes when floor forces attacked the camp.
Turkish officers refute this model of occasions. However Akar’s phrases about verifying intelligence about the place the hostages have been being held, coupled with the HPG’s Feb. 11 assertion claiming that the camp had been struck, prompted hypothesis of a botched rescue operation. The authorities acted swiftly to snuff it out.
The Ankara chief prosecutor’s workplace launched legal investigations in opposition to an unspecified variety of people Sunday for sharing content material deemed to be “terrorist propaganda.” This included what seems to be drone footage printed by the HPG which allegedly reveals earlier than and after pictures of the Turkish assaults on the camp in Gare in addition to a video beforehand shared by the HPG by which one of many slain abductees, non-comissioned gendarmerie officer Semih Ozbey, appeals for assist to safe his launch.
These being investigated over their tweets embody lawmakers Huda Kaya and Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Social gathering (HDP). Gergerlioglu, who has made his mark championing the reason for the hundreds of prisoners of conscience in Turkey, confirmed no indicators of being cowed. “So what should you launch an investigation into the reality. So what should you launch an investigation into calls for for all times, for peace. Decrying demise, saying there may have been an answer, is that this what’s worthy of an investigation?” he asked.
The HDP faces unremitting stress with a whole lot of its members, together with elected officers and lawmakers jailed on prices of cooperating with the PKK. Bahceli is demanding its closure and can possible seize on what he known as “cave terror” to that finish.The HDP in an announcement took purpose on the authorities for spurning alternatives to safe the hostages’ freedom by “diplomacy” and endeavor “army operations with unclear aims as a substitute.”
Erdogan, whose ballot numbers are wilting within the face of rising poverty and unemployment, might proceed to withstand these calls. However he might effectively exploit public fury over the deaths to drive an extra wedge within the opposition’s continued efforts to unite in opposition to him and paint their collaboration with the HDP as extra terror coddling.
The PKK, which is designated as a terrorist group by america and the European Union, has focused civilians. However it doesn’t have a historical past of killing hostages. Relatively, it sees them as bargaining chips to relaunch peace talks with the federal government and to fend off assaults. It has freed captive Turkish troopers prior to now by the mediation of Kurdish politicians and rights activists.
It stays unclear what number of Turkish nationals are nonetheless being held by the PKK. The final identified abductions of Turkish officers came about in August 2017 when the militants nabbed two MIT officers in a sting operation close to Sulaiymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan.