President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 15 accused the United States of siding with “terrorists” over the illegal PKK group’s killing of 13 Turks in northern Iraq, adding that a U.S. statement of condemnation was a “joke.”
“[You said] you do not stand by the terrorists, but you stand by the PKK, you stand by the YPG? You are with and behind them. Unfortunately, we have always seen this from the beginning,” Erdoğan said, addressing his party members in the Black Sea province of Rize.
“The blood of innocent people martyred in northern Iraq is on the hands of all those defending, supporting and sympathizing with PKK terrorists,” he said, noting that the attack was “not the first massacre” of civilians by the PKK.
He made a call to new U.S. President Joe Biden to “better realize” the PKK. Erdoğan noted that Biden should also know better about Fetullah Gülen, who was behind the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
“The statement made by the United States is a disgrace,” the president also said in his first public comments on the incident.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement on the incident, saying America stands with its NATO ally Turkey and offered its condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in northern Iraq.
“The United States deplores the death of Turkish citizens […] We stand with our NATO Ally Turkey and extend our condolences to the families of those lost in the recent fighting. If reports of the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization, are confirmed, we condemn this action in the strongest possible terms,” it said.
Erdoğan said Turkey’s NATO allies had to pick sides. “After this, there are two options. Either act with Turkey with no ifs or buts, without questioning, or be a partner to every murder and bloodshed,” he said.
“The terrorist organization that is on our doorstep and on our borders is killing innocent people,” Erdoğan stated.
Erdoğan’s comments came after the bodies of 13 Turkish citizens, including Turkish soldiers and police officers, were found during Turkey’s anti-terror operation in northern Iraq, according to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar’s comments on Feb. 14.
Turkey has killed 42 terrorists in hideouts and caves during the first phase of Operation Claw-Eagle 2 in northern Iraq, the president said.
He noted that Ankara had been making plans to rescue these abandoned citizens, whom he said were kidnapped five-six years ago, in the last five months.
“These brothers were captured in the hands of terrorists. We had always been thinking about how we would rescue them. We tried very hard. We wanted to save these brothers and sisters on the night of these operations,” Erdoğan said.
Following the execution of the 13 Turks by the PKK in northern Iraq, no one can criticize or stand against Turkey’s cross-border operations, Erdoğan stated.
“Now, no one, or no organization can question, criticize or stand against Turkey’s operations in Iraq and Syria,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu will brief parliament on Feb. 16 on the PKK’s execution of Turkish citizens in northern Iraq.
Turkish forces launched Operation Claw-Eagle 2 on Feb. 10 to prevent the PKK and other terror groups from re-establishing positions used to carry out cross-border terror attacks on Turkey.