A suspect convicted of starting a forest fire on the outskirts of Aydos Hill in Istanbul’s Pendik district on the orders of the PKK terror group was recently sentenced to life imprisonment.
Some 4,865 square meters of land burned in the wildfire that started in the Aydos Forest on Sept. 19, 2019. The investigation by security forces revealed that the fire was started by Yakup Akman on behalf of the PKK terror group.
Following the incident, a social media account affiliated with the PKK assumed responsibility for the fire. Arrested on Sept. 24, 2019, Akman admitted that he caused the fire on the order of the PKK.
A court recently revealed its decision to sentence Akman to life imprisonment on the charge "disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state.” He was also sentenced to 25 years in prison on the charge of “burning a state forest as an act of armed terrorist organization.”
A group thought to be affiliated with the PKK terrorist group claimed responsibility for last summer’s wildfires in Turkey's western, northwestern and southern provinces, declaring "fiery revenge" against the state.
In a written statement published on a pro-PKK website, the group, calling itself the Children of the Fire Initiative, took responsibly for starting 27 separate fires in western metropolitan cities between July 11 and Aug. 24, including the one in western İzmir province that damaged more than 500 hectares of forest in the Karabağlar, Menderes and Seferihisar districts.
The PKK-linked group said they razed forests in western cities as an act of revenge, further claiming that they will continue to set fire to other green areas and lands "until a free autonomous Kurdistan" is established.
Formed in 1978, the PKK, recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S., and European Union, has been waging violent attacks against the state and citizens since 1984, killing nearly 40,000 people. In addition to suicide bombings, deadly ambushes and massacres of civilians, the PKK either claimed to have started or was accused of starting many forest fires in the past.
The terrorist group is also known to have claimed responsibility for various incidents unrelated to the group as attacks or acts of sabotage. On July 13, 2019, the PKK-affiliated Fırat News Agency (ANF) reported that a forest fire on the outskirts of Aydos Hill in Pendik district was claimed by the People's United Revenge Militia group, which is a part of the Peoples' United Revolution Movement, an umbrella group of several illegal extreme-left terrorist groups mainly backed by the PKK. However, the Istanbul Governorate said in a statement that the investigation into the fire revealed that two children accidentally started the fire.
Moreover, during Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in 2018 that cleared the Syrian border city of Afrin from PKK terrorists' Syrian branch YPG, fleeing terrorists burned down hundreds of acres of forest land on the Amanos Mountains in the adjacent southern Turkish province of Hatay. PKK terrorists also burned forests in the Dörtyol district of Hatay and the Havran district of Balıkesir.
In another case, three terrorists were arrested after they were identified as the perpetrators of a 2011 forest fire in Foça, İzmir.