Turkey arrests hundreds over alleged Kurdish militant links in Iraq executions
Turkey on Monday announced the detention of 718 people it accuses of being part of a Kurdish militant group it says executed 13 Turks in northern Iraq.
The mass arrests were announced a day after Ankara said Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels had executed the 13 captives. The PKK blamed Turkish airstrikes on their bases for their deaths.
Most of the captives were soldiers and police abducted in southeast Turkey and kept in an Iraqi cave.
The PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 thought to have left tens of thousands dead.
The Turkish interior ministry did not give details on where the raids took place but said heads of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in cities and districts were among those captured.
The HDP is Turkey’s second-largest opposition party. It denies all formal links to the PKK — a group classified as a terrorist organisation by United States and Ankara’s other Western allies.
But Washington has supported another Kurdish militia in Syria that Turkey considers as an offshoot of the PKK.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday expressed condolences for the deaths of Turkish hostages in Iraq and said Washington believed PKK bore responsibility.
This came after the State Department said on Sunday it “deplores the death of Turkish citizens” but was waiting for further confirmation that Ankara’s account of what happened was true.
Erdogan branded Washington’s response “a farce”.
“You said you did not support terrorists, when in fact you are on their side and behind them,” he said in televised remarks…..read more