Turkey tightens security measures on Syrian border to prevent PKK entry
Turkish border security units and gendarmerie forces stationed along the country's border with Syria have tightened security measures in the region to prevent Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists from entering Turkey along with hundreds of Syrian refugees escaping from their country every day, Today's Zaman reported.
According to intelligence obtained from security officials, the number of PKK terrorists in Syria has increased to some 1,500, with most based in the predominantly Kurdish regions of Afrin, Amude and Derik. Many of these terrorists had previously been trained in Kandil, a major PKK camp in northern Iraq.
The tremendous increase in the number of Syrians who arrived in Turkey to seek refuge made both police and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) questions the security of the border. Furthermore, Turkish security forces were recently notified by some Syrians that PKK terrorists are planning to seek refuge in Turkey by pretending to be oppressed Syrian nationals. Following these developments, the number of gendarmes and police officers along the border with Syria was doubled.
Turkey has been conducting airstrikes on PKK camps in Iraq's northern mountains and inside Turkey since August of last year, following an increase in attacks on Turkish troops and civilians by the PKK, which has been fighting for autonomy for Turkey's largely Kurdish Southeast since 1984.
The conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The group is labeled a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, which has supplied Predator drones to assist Turkey.
ARABAŞLIK PKK presence in Syria increases with Damascus backing
Concrete evidence that the PKK has been recruited by the regime of embattled Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad also surfaced on Tuesday, with documents stolen from a secret joint crisis meeting confirming that Damascus sees the PKK as a tool for keeping order in the country's predominantly Kurdish northern regions.
According to a set of state documents published by Al Jazeera and reportedly smuggled out of Syria by Abdel Majid Barakat, a Syrian civil servant who defected, the regime had listed "coordinating with the Kurdistan Worker's Party in secret" as a component of its strategy to ensure security around the northern city of Aleppo. The document stated that the PKK's goal would be "to place Kurdish areas under surveillance, and to quell protests and protesters."
Suspicions have abounded in recent months about the extent of the Syrian government's interactions with the PKK, which has not operated within Syria's borders since the late 1990s. The Syrian government sent a thinly veiled warning in October that it would consider supporting the PKK if it perceived that Turkey was supporting the Syrian opposition, with Assad stating that "Turkey could fall into a state similar to ours" if it opposed Damascus.
Reports from inside Syria in recent months suggested that the PKK has also opened new camps on the Syrian-Iraqi border as the group flees a Turkish campaign to bomb its bases in nearby Iraq. The PKK is thought to operate through the guise of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD), a group which has called for dialogue with the Syrian regime but opposed widening calls for the leader to step down. The PYD has been condemned by a wide coalition of Kurdish parties represented by the anti-Assad Kurdish National Council, and was criticized heavily in an announcement last month by the Kurdish Future Movement Party, a group established by the widely respected Kurdish activist and political leader Mashaal Tammo. Tammo was killed in his home in Syria's northeastern city of Qamishli in October.