Turkey kills top Kurdish official in Iraq operation
ANKARA – A senior official from Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was killed in a Turkish intelligence operation in Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday.
Erdogan accuses the PKK of using the mountainous area in Iraq’s north as a springboard for its insurgency against the Turkish state.
The Turkish president said Selman Bozkir, also known as Doctor Huseyin, was the PKK chief in Makhmur, a Kurdish refugee camp in northern Iraq.
“We will not allow the gruesome separatist organisation to use Makhmur as an incubator for terrorism,” Erdogan said on Twitter.
“We will continue to exterminate terrorism at its source,” he added.
The presidency’s communications director Fahrettin Altun warned that “all terrorists will end up like him.”
Set up by the United Nations at the end of the 1990s to host Turkish Kurds, the Makhmur camp was hit Saturday by a Turkish drone strike that left three civilians dead, a Kurdish official from the camp said.
Ankara regularly accuses the PKK of running the Makhmur camp, which is 250 kilometres (150 miles) south of the Turkish border.
Turkey frequently conducts cross-border operations and air raids on PKK rear bases in Iraq, moves that have strained relations between the two neighbours, launching its latest offensive in April.
Earlier this week, Erdogan likened Makhmur camp to the Mount Qandil region along Iraq’s eastern frontier, where the PKK has bases.
“If the United Nations does not clean up this district, we will take care of it in our capacity as a UN member state,” Erdogan warned.
Turkish troops have maintained a network of bases in northern Iraq since the mid-1990s on the basis of security agreements struck with the government of late president Saddam Hussein.
The PKK has waged a rebellion in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey since 1984 which has claimed more than 40,000 lives and uses bases in Iraq to train fighters and launch attacks on Turkey.