Turkey’s Defence Minister said on Sunday that 13 Turks have been kidnapped and executed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq after Ankara had launched a military operation against the party earlier in February.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Washington must stop its support for Kurdish “terrorists”, as he accused the United States of standing “behind Kurdish militants who killed Turkish forces in Iraq.”
Speaking at AK Party Congress, the president added that Washington’s earlier statement on killed Turkish militants was “a joke”.
Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Sunday that 13 previously-kidnapped Turks, including police personnel, had been shot dead by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants.
The minister also said that three Turkish soldiers were killed during Ankara’s military operation against the group, which was launched on 10 February in northern Iraq’a Gara region. Three other soldiers were also wounded, Akar added, noting that 48 PKK militants had been killed by Ankara during the military operation. Turkey said that the offensive was launched to secure the country’s frontier and search for people who’d previously been kidnapped by PKK.
Following the minister’s words, the US Department of State released a statement deploring “the death of Turkish citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”
“We stand with our NATO Ally Turkey and extend our condolences to the families of those lost in the recent fighting. If reports of the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization, are confirmed, we condemn this action in the strongest possible terms,” the department argued.
PKK has been branded a “terrorist” organization by Turkey, the United States, the European Union and a number of other states.