Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused the United States government of supporting “terrorists” after the death of Turkish hostages in an area controlled by the Kurdish separatist Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. Iraq.
The Turkish government announced on Sunday that it had found 13 bodies of Turkish civilians and military personnel in a cave in Iraq’s Gara region and attributed the death to the PKK. Kurdish militia confirmed the deaths, but said they were caused by Turkish bombing in the area.
Also on Sunday, the US State Department said in a memo that “if the information about the deaths of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a classified terrorist organization, is confirmed, we condemn these actions in the strongest terms. “
The US statement was interpreted by the Erdogan government as a sign that the US was questioning the Turkish version of events.
“The statements by the United States are deplorable. They say they do not support the terrorists, but they are in fact on their side,” Erdogan said in a speech to supporters.
On Monday, the Turkish government summoned the US ambassador to Ankara to clarify the episode. Also on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and said the US believes “PKK terrorists are responsible” for the deaths in Iraq , according to a statement from State Department spokesman Ned Price.
After the deaths in Iraq, the Turkish authorities announced the arrest of 718 people, including politicians elected by the pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (HDP), the country’s third largest political force.
The diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the United States is due to the fact that the Erdogan government distrusts the American policy of supporting Kurdish militias in Syria and Iraq. The United States views the PKK as a terrorist organization, but in fact maintains its support for Kurdish militias in the region, such as the Popular Protection Units (YPG), which Erdogan accuses of collaborating with the PKK.
“If we are together in NATO and if you want NATO’s unity to be preserved, we must act with sincerity. You cannot be with the terrorists, if you want to be on the side of a part, you have to be on our side, “Erdogan added in the speech, referring to the United States.
Turkey regularly carries out attacks in the mountainous regions of northern Iraq against the rear bases of the PKK, which since 1984 has waged a bloody conflict against the Turkish regime which has left more than 40,000 dead.