Speaking at a meeting in western city Izmir, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has reiterated his country’s resolve in fighting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“The PKK is a terrorist organisation that is targeting Turkey. And we are fighting the PKK. We are struggling inside and outside our borders. Wherever the PKK is or will be, we will continue this struggle,” the top diplomat said, adding, “Like we are fighting them in Qandil we will continue in Sinjar [Shingal] where they are trying to form a second Qandil.”
Cavusoglu, speaking to Daily Sabah before the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels, had said an operation on Shingal was discussed during US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Ankara on March 30.
“US officials told us that they also have plans to retreat and eliminate the PKK everywhere, including in Sinjar,” he said, adding that the US told Ankara that “they will move in cooperation with us on this matter.”
Cavusoglu also commented on Turkish presence in northern Syria and seemed to contradict recent statements by officials that the operation there had ended.
“Al-Bab has been captured but not everything is finished, a clean-up operation is continuing.”
“Complete security needs to be put in place. These are areas completed cleansed of terror. People have started returning to these areas. 50,000 people have returned. Of course local forces need to take control of security but preparation is needed for this,” Cavusoglu stated.
99 PKK members were “neutralised” between 24-30 March according to a statement by Turkey’s General Chief of Staff.
The PKK has claimed that more than 20 soldiers have been killed in clashes concentrated in the country’s southeastern Mardin and Hakkari provinces.
While the Turkish army has admitted the death of one soldier, the PKK has said two of its members died in recent clashes.