Recent narcotics operations against the PKK terrorist group in the southeastern Kilis province near the Syrian border hit a major blow to the terrorist group's financial resources.
According to an article in the Turkish Habertürk daily, 12 million Captagon pills worth $250 million were seized by security forces during 164 operations that were carried out in the last seven months. It was revealed that the terrorist group sells the pills for TL 5 ($1.25) in Turkey, and TL 20 when they reach Africa.
The report also suggested that the PKK, along with its Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG), shifted their strategy and began to produce drugs that are easy to carry instead of cigarettes, after the border wall was erected on the Turkish-Syrian border and border crossing became difficult.
During the anti-narcotics operations, 282 people were detained, including 28 Syrian nationals. Earlier this week, a Syrian couple caught with 27,000 Captagon pills was arrested. It was reported that they were transporting the pills produced in the PYD-held areas in northern Syrian to African countries to sell.
Along with the drugs, 286 kilograms (631 pounds) of methamphetamine were also seized during the operations.
The PYD controls al-Hasakah in the east, northern Raqqa, Manbij to the east of Aleppo, Afrin and Tal Rifaat.
The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and EU, has waged a separatist insurgency against the Turkish state for more than 30 years, in which more than 40,000 people have been killed. It is also involved in the illicit production, manufacturing and trafficking of drugs.
However, the U.S. considers the PYD's armed YPG militia to be an effective force in the fight against Daesh in Syria, whereas Turkey, a NATO ally, argues that as a result of the ideological and organizational links between the groups, the U.S.'s support for the YPG is being transferred directly to the PKK to ultimately be used against the Turkish state and its people. The situation has caused tensions between Washington and Ankara, with the former saying that supporting the YPG is the only option to defeat Daesh and the latter saying an alternative could be found through an alliance with local Arab tribes backed by countries in the region, rather than supporting and arming "a terrorist group."