Published On: Fri, Feb 19th, 2016

Kurdish splinter group in Turkey claims Ankara bombing as “revenge”

Aftermath of car bomb targeting military in Ankara - © Umit Bektas/Pool, EPA

A Turkish armed splinter group claimed Friday the car bombing in Ankara this week, which targeted a military convoy in the heart of the capital and killed 28 people.

The claim counters the Turkish government allegations that Syrian Kurdish allies of the United States were behind the attack.

The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) made the claim on its website, saying the bombing was in retaliation for the situation in Cizre, south-eastern Turkey.

Clashes between the Turkish government’s forces and Kurdish militants have killed dozens and displaced tens of thousands in Cizre, which remains under a strict round-the-clock military curfew.

The statement said the group would “take revenge for all the suffering of the Kurdish people” and said the attack in Ankara was against the “fascist” Turkish state.

Not a lot is known about the TAK, which last claimed a mortar attack on an airport in Istanbul in December that left one woman from the cleaning staff dead.

The group is seen as a splinter which branched away from the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) more than a decade ago, though some security experts claim there are still links.

Turkey has been claiming the car bomb attack, which hit a convoy of buses near major military and government buildings, was carried out by a Kurd from northern Syria who was born in 1992.

However, the TAK statement said the bomber, who died in the attack, was born in Van, eastern Turkey, in 1989.

Earlier, Syrian Kurds from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is backed by the United States in its war against Islamic State, denied any involvement in the Ankara bombing, saying the group never hit a neighbouring state.

Turkey has insisted the YPG was behind the attack in collusion with the Syrian government. Turkey has so far arrested 20 people in connection with the bombing.

“The first thing they did after the attack was to blame us. They are inventing a pretext as they are seeking to enter Rojava,” Redur Xelil, a spokesman for the YPG, told the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency. Rojava is what the Kurds call northern Syria.

Turkey has been heavily shelling YPG positions since the attack. The Kurds have claimed at least two civilians were killed in the strikes, which intensified on Friday morning.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, described the Turkish shelling as “the heaviest ever, lasting for seven hours” in areas of Aleppo province.

Ankara has grown increasingly worried about the YPG, noting that the group has links to the PKK. A ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK broke down in July after holding firm for more than two years, setting off a cycle of violence which has claimed hundreds of lives.

Turkey is a staunch backer of Syrian rebels, who are currently collapsing in Aleppo in the face of intense Russian airstrikes. In the north of the province, near the key town of Azaz close to the Turkish border, the Kurds have seized fresh territory.

Despite the accusations from Ankara about alleged YPG involvement the US has continued to back the YPG’s advance against Islamic State near the Iraq border. The YPG is seen as the most reliable partner on the ground for the US.

Turkey last year opened up a military base to the US to carry out airstrikes against Islamic State, including strikes in Syria that help the YPG advance.

The observatory this week said Turkey allowed hundreds of rebel fighters into the Azaz area in northern Aleppo. Kurdish officials said this influx including Islamists.

The YPG is receiving the backing of Russian airstrikes in western Syria and US airstrikes in the east and says it is charting out an independent course in the country.

The Syrian Kurds have declared three autonomous cantons in the north of the country. They are currently seeking to link the canton in the

far north-west to the central canton. The area dividing the regions, along the border with Turkey, is controlled by Islamic State.

The PKK and Turkey have been fighting an armed conflict since 1984, which has left more than 40,000 people dead. Kurds in Turkey often complain of systematic discrimination by the government and human rights abuses by the military during operations.

 

[Source:- DPA]