Iran hands over Turkish members of PJAK to Turkey

(Todayszaman) Iran, which is fighting an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), has captured two Turkish members of the group and handed them over to Turkey, sources told Today's Zaman.

Turkish security forces have recently intensified a security operation in southeastern Anatolia against the PKK.

Two members of the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), the Iranian wing of the PKK, were arrested during a fresh operation by Iranian security forces against the outlawed group.

The two PJAK members, Mustafa Koc and Burhan Doner, were arrested during a raid in Urmia, a city in northwestern Iraq. The two were recently handed over to Turkish gendarmerie officials in the border town of Yuksekova, in southeastern province of Hakkari. The two terrorists crossed the border to Iran via Mt. Agr? in eastern Anatolia in June 2006 to join the PKK/PJAK, they said during their interrogation. They also said they had been kept in an Iranian prison for some time before they were sent to Turkey.

Koc and Doner are under arrest in Turkey for membership in the PKK. Sources said they have provided important information about the PKK's activities in Iran. Following the testimony to a state prosecutor, the gendarmerie detained a person identified as Ferman C. in Yuksekova for recruiting members to PJAK and raising funds for the outlawed group. A woman, identified as Pakize K., is also being sought as part of the same investigation, but she has so far evaded capture, according to sources. Ferman C., on the other hand, has been arrested and sent to prison. Efforts to locate and detain Nazife K. are still under way.

Iran over the weekend confirmed for the first time reports that it has been shelling PJAK camps in northern Iraq. PJAK has been behind a string of deadly attacks on security forces in northwestern Iran in recent months. The PKK has camps in the same region, and Turkey has repeatedly warned that it would resort to a cross-border operation targeting the PKK bases in northern Iraq if the US and Iraqi authorities fail to take action. But Turkish authorities have said there has been no coordination with Iran in its anti-PJAK efforts.

Iranian shelling has been affecting the PKK's camps as well. Sources say the Iranian bombardment has led to a wave of escapes from the PKK's mountain camps; two PKK terrorists, codenamed Delil Ararat and Dilxwaz, sought asylum with Turkish Special Forces operating in northern Iraq amid Iranian shelling of the northern Iraqi camps. Both terrorists joined the PKK in the 1980s in Istanbul.

Turkey has implicitly backed Iranian operations in Iraq, with President Abdullah Gul, the then-foreign minister, declaring that countries have the right to secure their borders. Turkish officials have denied any cross-border operation into northern Iraq in pursuit of PKK terrorists, but the Iraqi government complains that both Turkey and Iran have resorted to military measures affecting Iraqi territory. Turkish security forces have recently intensified a security operation in southeastern Anatolia against the PKK before arrival of winter.

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