Turkey could strike Syria-based PKK fighters
Thursday, 26 July 2012 13:20 GMT
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Syria of letting Turkey's Kurdish rebels operate inside the north of the country and warned that Ankara would not hesitate to strike them.
"In the north, it (President Bashar Assad's regime) has allotted five provinces to the Kurds, to the terrorist organization," Erdogan said on Turkish television late Wednesday, referring to the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).
He said the move was explicitly aimed against Turkey and warned that "there will undoubtedly be a response on our part to this attitude."
Asked if Ankara would strike fleeing rebels after an attack on Turkish soil, Erdogan said: "That's not even a matter of discussion, it is a given. That is the objective, that is what must be done."
"That is what we have been doing and will continue to do in Iraq," he said during a program aired on Kanal 24.
"If we occasionally launch arial strikes against terrorist areas it's because these are measures taken because of defense needs."
Turkey regularly bombs suspected Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and by much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.
Relations between Turkey and Syria have steadily soured since the start of the uprising against Assad's rule in Syria in March 2011, with Erdogan criticizing the regime's crackdown against the revolt.