PKK escalates retaliation against Turkey

Over the weekend Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) separatist fighters killed three Turkish soldiers in two separate incidents. The escalation follows recent Turkish airstrikes on PKK positions just over the border in Iraq, which were themselves in response to an uptick in supposed PKK violence against Turkish police and soldiers.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants killed two soldiers and wounded 31 in a suicide attack overnight in eastern Turkey, the army said on Sunday, as violence escalated following Ankara’s air bombardment targeting Kurdish militants.

PKK militants drove a tractor filled with explosives into a military outpost in the Dogubeyazit district of the eastern Agri province bordering Iran, the army said in a statement.

Four of the wounded were in serious condition, it said.

The PKK also attacked a unit on patrol in the southeastern province of Mardin late on Saturday night, killing one soldier and wounding seven, the army said.

The PKK announced it was stepping up attacks in mid-July over what it said were ceasefire violations, but has responded with yet more violence since Turkey began a campaign of air strikes on PKK camps in northern Iraq on July 24, in what the prime minister has called a “synchronized fight against terror”.

Turkey has denied reports made by the PKK that Friday’s artillery bombardment on Zargala in Iraqi Kurdistan had killed civilians.

The United States and Turkey have reached an agreement to disallow Kurdish Peshmerga YPG forces from claiming land in the planned border zone free of Islamic State and controlled by moderate Syrian rebels. The YPG have been the most effective ground fighting force in the U.S. led coalition battle with Islamic State. Turkey had been concerned that the proposed zone would be consolidated by the Kurdish forces as the area represents the last remaining border area not under the control of the Kurds. Turkish officials have warned the YPG explicitly not to cross the Euphrates River into the proposed zone.

Syrian Kurdish territory

Complicating matters further is that the PKK and YPG are allies, and while the YPG have been essential partners in the fight against Islamic State, the PKK is considered by both Turkey and the U.S. as a terrorist group. A fragile ceasefire that had held since March 2013 has now certainly collapsed and reignited a civil war that reaches back to 1984 and has caused 40,000 deaths.

[Reuters][Wall Street Journal][Photo: KR Magazine]