ISTANBUL • Two Turkish soldiers were killed and at least two dozen other troops were wounded yesterday in a suicide attack blamed on Kurdish militants.
A vehicle loaded with explosives rammed into a military police station located in Dogubayazit district of eastern Agri province, near Turkey’s border with Iran.
But Turkey had previously stood aloof, prompting accusations – strongly denied by Ankara – of complicity with the terrorists.
However, the ceasefire ended in effect when Turkey launched raids against Kurdish separatist camps in northern Iraq last month.
“Despite our official announcement that we are not part of what is happening…the Turkish military monitors and targets our units”, the group said in a statement posted to their website. They reportedly included at least two women.
Female members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and an Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighter take positions on the front line in Makhmur, some 50 km south of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Demirtas is widely viewed as the biggest political threat to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of likely early elections following the ruling AKP party’s inability to form a coalition government. Nonetheless, most Kurds are united against the Islamic State, and Mr. Barzani’s regional government has supported the expanding role of the P.K.K.’s Syrian affiliate, the Y.P.G., in battling the group.
Violence has flared in Turkey in the past week with the Turkish government conducting nearly daily airstrikes at PKK bases in northern Iraq, shattering a fragile peace process launched in 2012 with the Kurds.
In the latest air strikes on Friday, 28 Turkish F-16s destroyed 65 targets of the PKK including shelters and arms depots, it said.
“We condemn the bombing, which led to the martyrdom of the citizens of the Kurdish region, and we call on Turkey to not to repeat the bombing of civilians”, Barzani said in the statement, which also called for continued peace talks.
Commenting on the previous accusation, a senior Turkish official had said the Turkish army had shot back after it came under cross-border fire but said it was unclear which group was involved and stressed the YPG was not a target. The US has already spent a staggering $3.2 billion in its bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria – spending around $9.4 million a day – to overthrow the elusive Islamic State.
And providing the US access to Incirlik gives the Turks more freedom to strike the Kurds in Iraq, which they began doing right after announcing the agreement with the US.
A statement Wednesday by the Iraqi Council of Ministers called the Turkish airstrikes “a unsafe escalation and a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty“.
To a large extent such hopes rest on the President’s designs to implement a “safe zone” in Syria, which would effectively constitute a no-fly zone, as a way to safeguard Turkey’s role as a significant force in the region, and to posit Erdoğan as a powerbroker dictating the flow of the Syrian conflict.