PKK Fighters, Army Clash in Turkey
Kurdish rebels with the PKK launched simultaneous attacks on three military posts in Hakkari province near the Iraqi border Sunday, killing 14 rebels, 6 soldiers, and 2 village guards. The Turkish government responded sharply by sending reinforcements and attack helicopters to chase down the fighters, while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned other countries that may be aiding the PKK that Turkey is ‘‘powerful enough to bring into line enemy-country (puppet masters) who hold the strings of the terror organization.’’ The attack comes as Turkey intensifies its military campaign against rebel fighters in the southeast. The Turkish army claims to have killed at least 37 rebels with a lose of 2 soldiers, but the PKK claims to have shot down 2 helicopters and killed 49 soldiers since the offensive started.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Gettleman reports on rising tensions between Alawites and majority Sunni Muslims in Turkey due to the minority community’s support for Syrian President and fellow Alawite Bashar al-Assad. Turkey’s Alawites comprise nearly 20 percent of the population, but with Sunni Muslims largely on the side of Syrian rebels and the influx of refugees with strong anti-Alawite sentiments, many in the sect fear violent reprisals seen in Syria may spread to Turkey.
Also, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Sunday that she will travel to Istanbul next weekend for bilateral talks with the Turkish government about Syria and “other timely issues.” The last minute addition will follow the secretary’s current tour of Africa.