US-led coalition acknowledges presence of PKK terrorists in northern Syria

Published 26.04.2017 20:53
Updated 26.04.2017 23:59
emAFP Photo/em
AFP Photo

The spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against Daesh acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that there are PKK elements in northern Syria, not only in Iraq.

Colonel John Dorrian, the spokesman for the coalition, complained about the fashion of airstrikes conducted by the Turkish military in Syria and Iraq on Tuesday, saying "their airstrikes didn't provide adequate time and coordination to assure that [it was] PKK who has been struck."

The coalition sent a group of U.S. forces to Syria's Derik, where Turkish airstrikes hit targets, as a show of solidarity on Tuesday. The pictures from the area showed that a senior U.S. soldier was welcomed by people carrying PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's posters and PKK flags. Colonel Dorrian evaded the question surrounding these images and reiterated the fact they were visiting coalition partners the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The People's Protection Units (YPG), is the Syrian armed wing of the PKK, a terror group designated by the U.S., European Union and Turkey.

Another picture emerged from the welcoming ceremony held by the YPG, which showed a senior U.S. officer walking with PKK commander Ferhat Abdi Şahin or Şahin Cilo.

The PKK commander is a well-known individual among Turkish security forces due to his role in countless terror attacks targeting Turkish citizens since the early 2000s. Various reports suggested that Cilo is PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's adopted son. Turkish intelligence believes he was assigned as the general commander of the PKK and YPG forces in Syria in 2012.

Colonel Dorrian again skipped the question on the sighting of a PKK commander with a U.S. soldier, but said the area was very crowded, implying that they didn't know every individual in Derik.

PKK presence in Sinjar

Responding to a question on PKK groups in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, the colonel said their presence was a problem, regardless of their location, to everyone since the PKK is a designated terror group.

The Turkish Air Force carried out airstrikes against PKK terrorists near northern Iraq's Sinjar Mountain and areas in Karaçok Mountain in northeastern Syria, according to a statement released by the Turkish General Staff on Tuesday.

The anti-terror operations were launched at around 2 a.m. local time on previously identified targets in the region, aiming to prevent PKK terrorists from smuggling weapons and explosives into Turkey for future attacks, the military statement elaborated.

The targeted regions have become "terror hubs" for the PKK, which were used as an ammunition and terrorist source for PKK attacks within Turkey, the statement added.

The air operation was conducted "within the scope of the international law" and "with the aim of destroying the hot beds of terrorism which target the unity, integrity, and safety of our country and nation," the statement said.

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