Turkish forces pictured late last month in Kurdistan Region’s Avashin area. Photo: Ozkan Bilgin/Anadolu Agency
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A group within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has been helping the PKK, Turkey’s foreign minister alleged.
“We are aware that a group within the PUK is helping the PKK, and the PKK has strengthened its position in Sulaimani because of this assistance,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Antalya, Turkey on Tuesday.
“I have seen an official from the Talabani party, who confirmed that they support the PKK and that their party is now paying the price for this force,” he added.
The PUK was founded by Jalal Talabani and his family members remain in key leadership roles within the party that has its headquarters in Sulaimani.
Ankara has refused to open its airspace to flights to Sulaimani’s international airport on the pretext of security concerns because of PKK activities in the province. Last year, Ankara expelled the PUK’s representative to Turkey after the PKK captured
two Turkish intelligence agents in Sulaimani province.
“The PKK has threatened the PUK leadership. They are currently under threat from the PKK,” Cavusoglu claimed.
Turkey is conducting a military operation against the PKK in the Kurdistan Region. The PKK, an armed Kurdish group that has fought for greater rights for Kurds in Turkey for decades, has its headquarters in Kurdistan’s Qandil Mountains.
Turkish forces have pushed at least 27 kilometres into the Kurdistan Region.
The PKK is named a terror organization by Turkey, the US, and Europe.
“Qandil operation will be launched and this area will be cleared of the PKK,” Cavusoglu said, claiming that they are coordination with the US and Iraq.
The PKK is an enemy of Turkey, the US, Baghdad, and Erbil, he said.
Turkey is ramping up its offensive against the PKK.
Ankara alleges that the PKK is controlling Syrian Kurdish groups, the armed YPG and political party PYD, who are allies of the United States in the war against ISIS in Syria.
Cavusoglu has just returned from a trip to Washington where he and his US counterpart Mike Pompeo endorsed a road map for the future of Manbij, a northern Syrian city that is under the administrative and security control of groups allied with the Kurds.