Behind the Lines: Turks fear ‘Kurdish Spring’
By JONATHAN SPYER
Regional events have left Ankara facing the possibility of sharing long-term borders with two semi-sovereign Kurdish entities.
Kurds pose behind Kurdish flag Photo: Mike Finn-Kelcey/Reuters
Turkish forces have launched a major offensive in recent days against positions held by the PKK rebel movement in the area of the Turkish-Iraqi border. Up to 2,000 troops are taking part in the operation, according to Turkish media sources. Turkey’s Interior Minister, Idris Naim Sahin, claimed that 115 Kurdish rebels had been killed by the Turkish security forces – an assertion dismissed by the PKK, which itself claims to have killed up to 49 Turkish soldiers.
The fighting has been going on since July 24, when the Turkish army responded in force to a PKK attempt to seize control of the road between the towns of Semdinli and Gerdiya. The authorities have closed off the area, making it difficult to attain an accurate picture of events on the ground. A PKK media statement described the Semdinli area as an “area of war,” involving “thousands of enemy soldiers and hundreds of guerrillas,” in which Turkey is using “tanks, warplanes, helicopters and other military technology.”
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