Turkish Foreign Minister: PKK has full control over PUK
Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed on Monday that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) now has total control over the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the second largest party in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), and that it is gradually infiltrating all strategic posts of significance in Sulaymaniyah.
Days after a suspected Turkish drone targeted and missed a convoy of cars carrying Mazloum Abdi, the top commander of Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Ilham Ahmed, the head of the governing body of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), and US troops in the perimeter of Sulaymaniyah Airport, Cavusoglu told government media A Haber in a live broadcast that the airport was "used by the PKK."
He also aid that the two helicopters which crashed on 15 March in KRI had been allocated by PUK to SDF.
Referring to SDF, a major partner of the US-led international coalition fighting the Islamic State group, as "terrorists," Cavusoglu said:
"According to the information we have, the helicopters used by the terrorists had been allocated by the Sulaymaniyah administration, more precisely, Talabani's party. As you know, there are separate administrations in Sulaymaniyah and Erbil, and there are some serious conflicts and tensions between the two. We obviously would not interfere in their internal affairs, but such tensions have negative consequences for all parties."
"Talabani's party [PUK] received those helicopters from France, and they allocated them to the use of terrorists. The airspace is under US control, so the US is also aware of these flights."
Pointing out that the helicopters were headed for Sulaymaniyah airport, Cavusoglu accused PUK, saying:
"Which airport were they going to use? Sulaymaniyah International Airport. They use the airport used by every one else. That's a civilian airport and the PKK has infiltrated even that airport. The PKK is now in total control of everything in Sulaymaniyah, particularly of Talabani's party. And not only the party, or the administration, or the airport, they are gradually infiltrating all posts of strategic significance. They weren't able to infiltrate Erbil, so they're constantly engaged in different tactics to weaken Erbil. We may say that the PKK now controls every post in Erbil. This is why we have closed our airspace."
Asked how the officials of PUK respond to Turkey's accusations, Cavusoglu said:
"They always deny. But our contacts within the party say that PKK now has full control of the party."
He added that Turkey's military operations in KRI and Syria would continue.
Turkish authorities claim that the SDF is linked to the PKK, designated a "terrorist group" by Ankara.