PKK trying to sabotage Turkey’s peace efforts with violent attacks in Syria, Iraq

Protesters provoked by the PKK gather after storming a Turkish military camp near Dohuk, Iraq, Jan. 26, 2019.

The PKK's role in attacks that took place in Duhok, Iraq and in Syria recently is unquestionable as traces of the terrorist organization have been found in both incidents

The PKK terrorist organization was behind the provocation that took place near a Turkish base in northern Iraq on Saturday as well as the bombings that targeted U.S. soldiers in northern Syria earlier this month, Turkish security officials told Daily Sabah. Speaking under the condition of anonymity, security officials confirmed Monday that PKK terrorists incited people to protest near a Turkish base, where 10 people were wounded.

Protesters attacked the Turkish military camp near Duhok in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region on Saturday and burned two tanks and other vehicles. The Turkish Presidency's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said Sunday that attackers linked with the PKK concealed themselves among civilians and tried to provoke them against the Turkish military. "Precautions have been taken to prevent civilian losses near the area where the base is located," Altun said, as he urged media outlets to be careful about the terrorist group's online defamation campaign. Altun also noted that only material damage has taken place and no lives have been lost in the attack.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, who told him that they have taken the necessary precautions and have launched an inquiry into the incident, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said after the attack.

Barzani also made an announcement on Sunday and said that people in the region have been paying the price because of PKK attacks that are threatening neighbor countries.

Following the provocation, the KRG shut the office of the PKK-linked NRT TV on Sunday over its provocative broadcasting regarding Saturday's attack. NRT TV said its office in the city was raided and sealed off by security forces, and some employees working in the office were also detained and released later on bail.

Formed in 1978, the PKK terrorist group has been fighting the Turkish government for an independent state. Its terror campaign has caused the deaths of more than 40,000 people. The PKK is an internationally recognized terrorist organization and is listed as such by the U.S., Turkey and the European Union.

Security officials also said that the bombs that were used in two different attacks in northern Syria's Manbij and Hasakah provinces were made by the PKK-affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG).

On Jan. 16, two U.S. soldiers and two other Americans working for the coalition in Syria were killed in a suicide attack in Manbij, in the Aleppo province. Another 12 civilians were killed in that attack, which was claimed by Daesh.

In less than a week, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), mainly dominated by YPG forces, and a U.S. forces convoy became the targets of a suicide bombing, which was also claimed by Daesh, in the city of Shaddadi, killing five YPG terrorists and injuring at least two U.S. military personnel.

Speaking on the issue, Cemil Doğaç İpek, a Turkish academic told Daily Sabah that these attacks on U.S. personnel, which came after U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement of withdrawal from Syria, were a propaganda tool for the YPG to affect the decision. İpek noted that the terrorist organization may have leaked the information to Daesh, if it did not directly organize the attacks.

He also elaborated that the recent attacks are different from former Daesh attacks given that it previously had abstained from directly targeting American soldiers, and Daesh's intelligence network has never been sufficient enough to obtain the information on the whereabouts and schedule of U.S. convoys.

It would also not come as a surprise if the YPG, which would benefit the most from the U.S.' presence in the country, had a hand in the attacks to hinder the U.S.' withdrawal, especially considering that the terrorist organization already threatened that it "may be forced to free Daesh fighters in their prisons" if Washington halts its support.

The repercussions of these attacks on the Trump administration's Syria policy have yet to be seen. However, the U.S sent additional troops to Syria yesterday to help provide protection to other American forces and their equipment to complete their withdrawal.

Following the attacks, the SDF issued a statement saying that "the intensifying terrorist attacks" and "moving sleeper cells to strike" will not dissuade the organization from completing the mission.

Commenting on U.S. media coverage of the attacks, Uluç Özülker, a retired ambassador and an academic, said that some media reports are depicting the situation in Syria as if Daesh has not been defeated yet - and are instead making the terrorist group appear strong enough to harm the U.S. military.

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