Turkey Claims Infighting Between Factions of Kurdish Terrorist PKK Group

Over 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK took up arms in 1984 demanding an independent state for Kurds
AFP/File Mustafa Ozer

The Turkish military claims there has recently been at least one instance of infighting between older and newer members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — a group declared a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and other NATO members.

Turkey and the PKK have been at war for more than 40 years over autonomy for the millions-strong Kurdish minority, primarily residing in the southeastern part of the country. More than 40,000 have reportedly died in the conflict.

Hurriyet Daily News reports:

Two groups within the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have engaged in an internal armed clash, according to radio communication revealed by the Turkish military, marking one of the first of such conflicts since the apprehension of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1999.

According to the military, the armed clash erupted between militants who recently joined the organization and older militants.

The new militants were reportedly forced to clash on the front line, leading to their deaths. Older radio communications also confirmed similar clashes within the party have taken place.

The Turkish news agency Hurriyet did not explicitly explain why the PKK terrorists are fighting each other.

Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast borders northern Iraq, which is controlled by the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), considered an ally of Ankara. The KRG has stood by Turkey against the PKK.

However, Turkey’s Kurdish region also borders northern Syria, a territory controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey has long considered the PYD and YPG to be affiliated with the terrorist PKK.

Hurriyet Daily News notes that that Turkish military has intercepted radio communications between PKK terrorists that reveal 50 shots were fired by one PKK faction near a region in northern Iraq against another.

“There were casualties in the clash while sources in the region also confirmed gunshots.

“We shot Ciwan along with four others. The others escaped to the opponent side and we are following,” one intercepted radio conversation revealed, according to Hurriyet.

“Security forces, meanwhile, took precautions against the militants who reportedly escaped to the Turkish side,” later adds the Turkish news outlet.

Clashes between the Turkish military and the PKK are reportedly still raging.

Citing Turkish military sources, Hurriyet points out that a total of 510 PKK fighters have been “neutralized” by the Turkish troops since August 24.

“Neutralized is a euphemism used by the Turkish military to denote enemy militants that either killed or incapacitated,” it explains. “Over the past three months, areas that the [PKK] organization described as impenetrable were cleared of militants as a result of raids.”

Moreover, Hurriyet learned from the governor of Turkey’s Mardin province, Mustafa Yaman, on Tuesday that up to 71 suspected terrorists have been apprehended in connection to an investigation into a PKK bomb attack earlier this month on the region’s Derik District.

“Yaman said all suspected perpetrators of the attack and their cooperators were still under detention, adding that 28 of the detained were public officials,” notes the news agency.

Early on Nov. 15, PKK militants staged an operation targeting the district headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Muradiye district of the eastern province of Van, it adds. “There were no casualties in the attack but the building was severely damaged.”

In April, the PKK’s military leader Cemil Bayik told BBC that contrary to Turkey’s claim the terrorist group does not want to establish its own state.

“We don’t want to separate from Turkey and set up a state,” he said, adding “We want to live within the borders of Turkey on our own land freely… The struggle will continue until the Kurds’ innate rights are accepted.”

Nevertheless, Turkey continues to accuse the PKK of “trying to create a separate state in Turkey,” points out BBC.