The National Intelligence Organization (MİT) denies having shared any intelligence with the Turkish General Staff that led to an airstrike in the country's Southeast that resulted in the deaths of 35 civilians who had been mistaken for Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists, Today's Zaman reported.
Following the airstrike, which occurred at the border between Turkey and Iraq, claims have surfaced that MİT agents inside the PKK purposefully provided intelligence to the General Staff that a band of terrorists would be crossing the border from northern Iraq into Turkey near Uludere, a district in the Sırnak province, nine days before the airstrike was carried out last week.
On Thursday, MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan organized a meeting with senior representatives of media outlets to mark the 85th anniversary of the establishment of MİT. He denied the Uludere allegations in his speech. "All these statements are lies and bear no relation to the truth. None of the reports [published by the press], with the exception of one on Dec. 21, 2011, are related to the incident in Uludere."
Fidan said he was finding it hard to understand the insistence on blaming MİT despite statements from various public agencies, including the General Staff, that detail the tragedy. MİT also shared a written statement with the attending journalists at the end of the meeting.
The statement noted that the General Staff, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Deputy Prime Minister Besirt Atalay, in related statements, have noted on more than one occasion that MİT was not involved in the intelligence efforts that led to the tragic incident.
It its statement, MİT, without directly naming him, accused Taraf journalist Mehmet Baransu of targeting MİT with these false allegations. Baransu had voiced his suspicion regarding the role of MİT in the intelligence failure and blamed MİT for the mistake. In a very public row last week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Baransu exchanged angry words, accusing one another of lying.
"Our agency has felt the need to issue a new statement about these stories to educate the public because of continued untruthful news publications," the MİT statement read.
Turkish warplanes mistakenly killed 35 smugglers in an operation meant to target PKK terrorists in Iraq last week on Wednesday night. The government quickly acknowledged that the victims were smugglers, not terrorists.
The military said in a statement issued earlier that the warplanes had targeted the group based on intelligence that suggested a group of armed terrorists would be heading towards the Turkish border to stage attacks on the military.
The victims were from the villages of Ortasu, Gulyazı and Ortabag in southeastern Sırnak province's Uludere district.