Rumours of PKK leader’s death scotched as relations between Turkey and Iraq detariorate


RUMOURS that de facto Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Cemil Bayik was killed by a Turkish air strike in Iraq on Tuesday night were dismissed today as state propaganda.

Reports carried on various news wires and in Turkish media outlets suggested that Mr Bayik may have been among those killed in a drone strike targeting alleged PKK positions in the Iraqi border area.

Two Iraqi soldiers were killed by strikes on an army convoy in the Sidakan area during the assault, in what President Barham Salih described as a “blatant attack” and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

The drone strike was claimed by Turkey to have targeted an alleged meeting  between Iraqi forces and PKK officials, including Mr Bayik, although the details remained unclear.

It came after clashes between PKK fighters and the Iraqi army, with talks being held to de-escalate the situation.

Turkish media often claims that Mr Bayik has been killed, only for him to appear safe and unharmed at a later date.

Speaking about the rumours, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Samil Tayyar welcomed the possible demise of the PKK leader and congratulated Turkey’s “heroes” for the air strike.

But a source close to the PKK told the Star that the rumours were unlikely to be true and dismissed them as state propaganda designed to mask the failure of the operation.

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador for the third time this year, saying he would be handed “a letter of protest with strong words” opposing Ankara’s military incursions.

It has also scrapped tomorrow’s planned visit by Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, as tensions between the two nations become increasingly fraught.

Turkey launched Operation Claw Eagle and Tiger in June, which it insisted was targeting PKK bases in the Qandil mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan.

But the first wave of bombings targeted scores of civilian positions including the 15,000-strong Maxmur refugee camp and the Sengal area, which was the scene of a 2014 genocide of Yazidi people at the hands of Isis.

Ankara has since been accused of using chemical weapons, which the international community remained silent on despite appeals to the United Nations and other official bodies.

Turkey is currently operating as Nato’s battering ram in the Middle East, allying with jihadists in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Azerbaijan to destabilise the region.

Source: Morning Star Online

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