Since the PKK announced the end of the cease-fire with the state on July 11, both its commanding echelon and youth-wing, the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), has received a huge blow with operations conducted by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the police.
Since the beginning of operations on July 22, reportedly, more than 1,296 terrorists have been killed by the TSK, which also heavily damaged many types of ammunition and logistics equipment. Furthermore, 2,632 PKK-linked suspects were detained by police and 744 of them were arrested.
Following these developments, it is reportedly expected that the PKK plans to shift militants to Turkey from Syria, where it fights with the People's Protection Units (YPG), the armed branch of its Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party (PYD) against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Intelligence reports point out that around 3,000 to 4,000 PKK militants fight in the PYD-controlled Rojava region in northern Syria. PYD officials have previously indicated that "PKK support has played a significant role in the fight against ISIS."
Pointing to the transitivity between the PKK and YPG in terms of militants, armaments and ammunition, Associate Professor Serhat Erkmen, head of the Department of International Relations at Ahi Evran University, said: "Given the latest developments in Syria, it is clear that the PKK's increasing terror activities in Turkey dealt a blow to the YPG's fight with ISIS in a narrow context, and also caused a major blow to the PKK's de facto unrecognizing attitude of the Turkish-Syrian border."
He added that the PKK's shifting focus for activities in Turkey might result in the YPG suffering more casualties in its fight against ISIS, and could spread into a much wider area.
Erkmen explained that the TSK's tightening measures in several regions on the Syrian border halted the flow of PKK militants, and said: "Probably, as a result of the prevention of the flows and PKK's casualties in Turkey, the need for recruitment for urban organizations in particular was harmed."
After the Suruç suicide bombing on July 20, Ankara decided to take tight security measures on the borders in order to stop the flow of terrorists, including those from ISIS, the PKK and the PYD.
Researcher and writer Bekir Aydoğan believes that border security measures must be done for the likely crossing of PKK militants into Turkey and distracting the security forces to fight in rural areas. "Since the organization's crossing the border with crowds would be a target for comprehensive airstrikes, it is possible that small groups might periodically do this. In the event of PKK militants infiltrating the border despite intense border security measures on the Syrian and Iraqi border, clashes might be seen between them and security officials," he said. He said that the PKK's change in strategy must be considered along with the PYD's desire to form a state in northern Syria, which raises concerns for Ankara in terms of border security. "In the event of alleged moves happening from the PYD to the PKK, two important subjects come to mind: First, this will refute the argument of the U.S. and the West, which constantly emphasizes that there is a difference between the PYD and PKK, and secondly, in the event of these moves occurring across the Syrian border, since Turkey's cross-border operations will include Syrian territory, the organization would be eager to conduct this over the Iraqi border."
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