Turkish warplanes on Friday struck camps and weapons storage facilities belonging to the Kurdish Workers Party or PKK at its Mount Qandil headquarters in Iraqi Kurdistan. The airstrikes ended a two-and-a-half-year truce between PKK, representing Turkey’s Kurds, and the Turkish military. The truce was considered a signature achievement for Erdogan’s government, but as observed by the PKK it “has no meaning anymore.”
The events culminating with the Turkish airstrikes began after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 30 Kurds in southern Kurdish town of Suruc last week. PKK has long accused Turkey of cooperating with ISIL and it carried out retaliatory shootings against Turkish police.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Kurds led by the PKK-affiliate militia group YPG, who famously fought and defeated ISIL in Kobane, are engaged in fierce fighting with ISIL in Syria, and in recent weeks have captured enough territory previously held by ISIL to enable them to form a contiguous Kurdish territory in northern Syria, a key to formation of an autonomous Kurdish region. Turkey worries that YPG advances could strengthen PKK’s position inside Turkey.
On Friday, Turkey also struck ISIL positions in Syria for the first time in the war. The Kurdish critics of Erdogan government said the attacks on ISIL were a smokescreen to hit PKK positions and silence any U.S. criticism.
File photo: Turkish F-16 (Osman Orsal/Reuters)