ANKARA (Combined Sources)–The United States actively supports the efforts of its Turkish allies to defeat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the U.S. ambassador to Turkey said Monday after Turkish troops deployed along the Iraqi border to stage fresh attacks against Kurds in Northern Iraq.
Twelve Turkish soldiers were killed in PKK attacks over the weekend, with most of the deaths occurring when members of the outlawed group assaulted a border unit at the Iraqi frontier.
Turkish state media said elite troops rappelled down from helicopters and poured out of mechanized infantry units Monday to mount an operation to surround the Kurds.
Meanwhile, security sources were quoted as saying helicopter gunships bombed suspected PKK positions in the provinces of Hakkari and Sirnak, bordering Iraq.
U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey said the United States would “urgently” consider any requests from Ankara asking for help fighting the PKK, which Washington considers a terrorist group. “We stand ready to review urgently any new requests from the Turkish military or government regarding the PKK,” Jeffrey said in a written statement, echoing remarks made Sunday by an embassy spokeswoman.
Following the weekend attacks there had been speculation that the U.S. might not have passed on actionable intelligence in its possession regarding PKK movements toward the border.
While Turkey’s “no” vote on fresh U.N. sanctions against Iran and a simmering crisis with Israel has sparked concern in Turkey that the United States may withhold support from Ankara’s struggle against the PKK, Jeffrey stressed “there has been no change in the level of U.S.-Turkey intelligence sharing regarding the PKK in northern Iraq.”
Describing the PKK as a terrorist group and a “common enemy” to both Ankara and Washington, Jeffrey said the U.S shared Turkey’s grief at the loss of its heroic troops and police in the joint struggle against terrorism. “Our sincere condolences go out to the families of the victims,” he said.