Government spokesman Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ slammed the Republican People's Party (CHP) for alleging that innocent civilians were killed in counterterrorism operations carried out with armed drones. Commenting on the accusations in a televised interview yesterday, Minister Bozdağ said that the allegations demonstrate the CHP's backing for the PKK. "This is a form of support the CHP is showing the PKK, in order to endorse the latter's allegations that Turkish security forces kill civilians," he said.
He added that the CHP, with false claims that civilians were being killed during clashes, is doing the same thing that the PKK did in 2015 when they dug ditches in city centers and tried to tarnish Turkey's image in the international arena.The deputy prime minister said that those who were killed in the operations were terrorists that had long been followed by Turkish security forces. "We can't say just ‘stop' and ask for identification from those who commit acts of terrorism and those who attack the police, soldiers and civilians," he said.
He also asserted that Turkish security forces were continuing the determined fight against terrorism.
Presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın also commented on the CHP's allegations during a press conference.
"When Turkey takes concrete steps in the counterterrorism fight, these types of statements pop up," Kalın said yesterday, adding that leaders should have a clear understanding of the subject before commenting on it.
CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu supported CHP Istanbul Deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu's allegations that innocent civilians were killed in operations involving armed drones, saying on Sept. 12 that "They can support the PKK but there should be weapons at that place."
Kılıçdaroğlu also said that they might have been on a "picnic." On the other hand, CHP Deputy Tanrıkulu previously tweeted on Sept. 6, "The unmanned combat aerial vehicle Bayraktar struck civilians and innocent people. I will continue to follow this issue."
Meanwhile, the government spokesman also said that the CHP grassroots would not accept the party's support of the PKK. In line with Bozdağ's comments, Hakan Bayrakçı, the president of pro-CHP surveying company SONAR, yesterday stressed that the CHP should withdraw its support for the PKK. "Tanrıkulu's close affiliations with the [People's Democratic Party] HDP is a known fact. If the CHP follows a policy that is suggested by [CHP deputy] Tanrıkulu, its voting rate will decrease by 9 percent in 10 days," Bayrakçı said.The row between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the CHP began in the wake of Tanrıkulu's claims, as the CHP's Istanbul deputy voiced the same allegations as those of Murat Karayılan, the leader of the PKK.
Karayılan had stated on Aug. 23 that with the use of drones "Turkish soldiers are not as they were before. They have changed their tactics. In the past, we were confronted by them. Now, we can't hide. Soldiers are listening, watching us and hunting us as if they were hunting rabbits."
In response to Tanrıkulu's claims, the Ministry of Defense issued a written statement on Sept. 7 denying the allegations. "The malicious claims about the use of armed drones that are being utilized actively in the counterterrorism fight do not reflect reality. None of our citizens have been harmed in the counterterror operations conducted by the use of unmanned combat aerial vehicles," the statement said. Tanrıkulu claimed on Sept. 13 that he had received the information about civilians being killed by drones after talking with members of law societies in the Diyarbakır, Van and Hakkari provinces.
Tanrıkulu previously worked as the lawyer representing the PKK's imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan, and he was identified as "a reliable source for the CIA" in the Stratfor documents that were leaked by WikiLeaks.