Türkiye implied that the countries aiding the PKK terrorist group in Iraq or Syria may face consequences as it would target anywhere controlled or seized by the PKK, including energy facilities in Syria where the U.S.-backed wing of the group operates.
Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said on Wednesday that Turkish security forces were authorized to target everything owned or controlled by the PKK terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. “Everything belonging to the PKK/YPG, from infrastructure to energy facilities, in Syria and Iraq are now legitimate targets of our security forces,” he said during a news conference in the capital Ankara.
Fidan’s remarks came after Sunday’s terrorist attack by the PKK that targeted the headquarters of Turkish police in the capital. Fidan said that the investigation showed that two terrorists involved in the attack hailed from Syria.
“It is a known fact how clear Türkiye’s stance is in the fight against terrorism. After this latest incident, as a result of the work carried out by our intelligence and security forces, it became clear that the two terrorists came from Syria and were trained here,” Fidan told a news conference with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu in the capital Ankara. “All infrastructure-superstructure facilities and energy facilities belonging to the PKK/YPG in Iraq and Syria are the legitimate targets of our security forces, armed forces and intelligence elements from now on,” he added.
The PKK and its Syrian wing YPG are known for using northern Iraq and northern Syria, near the Turkish border, as hideouts to plot terrorist attacks on Türkiye and Turkish forces.
Fidan also warned third parties, without naming them, to stay away from PKK/YPG facilities. “Our armed forces’ response to this terrorist attack will be extremely clear. They will once again regret committing such actions,” he added.
For years, Turkish officials have criticized the U.S. for working with the PKK/YPG and even sending it weapons. The U.S. claims it partners with the YPG/PKK to fight the terrorist group Daesh. Turkish officials say using one terrorist group to fight another makes no sense.
As Türkiye copes with the aftermath of a terrorist attack, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday renewed his call to the international community for a joint fight against terrorism. Addressing an event where members of the Council of State convened in Ankara, Erdoğan said they expected “concrete steps” from friendly countries against terrorism. “We want to see concrete steps from our friends along with condemnation. It should be known that statements soothing us and condemning terrorism will not be a balm for our wounds,” he said.
Reiterating that Türkiye has “sacrificed” thousands of people to terrorism, Erdoğan said: “We truly cannot comprehend the tolerant attitude shown to the bloodthirsty killers.”
“We cannot explain to ourselves or to our nation the lack of any action against the terrorist leaders despite folders full of evidence,” he said.
Like Fidan, Erdoğan did not mention any specific country, but his target was obvious: the United States and European countries. The United States provides training and military equipment to the PKK/YPG, which seeks to legitimize its presence in Syria’s north through an entity called the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF.
European countries, including Sweden, which seeks Türkiye’s approval for NATO membership, were also accused by Ankara of harboring members of the PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Terrorists wanted by Türkiye often find shelter in other European countries giving them political asylum.
“If these terrorists were not neutralized in Ankara and managed to flee abroad, they would be given political asylum and would be protected. It is most likely that some of our friends who condemned this act of terrorism would, unfortunately, reject our request for their extradition,” Erdoğan said Tuesday.
Despite Ankara’s documentation of the fact that the YPG and PKK are, in actuality, the same terrorist group, consistent U.S. support for the terrorists remains a source of significant strain between the allies.
Since 2016, Ankara has been leading counteroffensives against the terrorist groups and striving to establish a 30-kilometer-deep (19-mile-deep) security line, for which Russia and the U.S. committed to providing support in October 2019. The same month, Türkiye launched its Operation Peace Spring against the PKK/YPG and Daesh, another terrorist group, in northern Syria, with Washington promising that the YPG would withdraw from the region.
The U.S. military then evacuated all its bases in the area, prioritizing stationing near oil fields. It, however, maintained its support, namely military training and truckloads of equipment, to the terrorist group under the guise of a joint fight against Daesh. It also conducts regular patrols with the PKK/YPG.