National Post (Latest Edition)
Erdogan has 700 arrested in killings
PKK group accused in captives’ deaths
beirut • Turkey announced the arrests of hundreds of people it said Monday were linked to the PKK, after the outlawed Kurdish militant group was accused of killing 13 Turkish captives.
Ankara also summoned the American ambassador after President recep Tayyip erdogan expressed anger that the u.s. did not immediately accept Turkey’s word on Sunday that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had killed the captured Turkish soldiers and police in a cave in northern Iraq.
The PKK said the prisoners died amid fighting and Turkish airstrikes during a military operation by Ankara against the guerrilla group.
Washington initially condemned the killings, saying that if confirmed, then responsibility lay with the PKK. Antony blinken, the u.s. secretary of state, later told his Turkish counterpart that “PKK terrorists” were responsible.
“The secretary expressed condolences for the deaths and affirmed our view that PKK terrorists bear responsibility,” the u.s. State department said.
but this did not appease erdogan, who said in an address in the black Sea city of rize: “If we are together with you in NATO, if we are to continue our unity, then you will act sincerely toward us. Then, you will stand with us, not with the terrorists.”
erdogan said that Ankara would continue its cross-border operations into Iraq against the PKK.
The comments are likely to strain relations already under pressure after Washington sanctioned Turkey in december over its purchase of a russian missile system.
u.s. President Joe biden has not yet spoken to erdogan since his swearing-in on Jan. 20, a delay that has been interpreted by some as a snub of an important ally.
erdogan’s ire also extended to the pro-kurdish Peoples’ democratic Party (HDP), which accused the government of failing to seize earlier opportunities to negotiate the release of the prisoners.
Turkey’s interior ministry said Monday that HDP city and district heads were among some 718 people detained in 40 cities across Turkey for alleged links to the PKK.
Garo Paylan, a HDP MP, said about 150 of his party’s members were detained overnight.