PKK terrorists captured after entering Turkey from Syria

Türkiye Materials 1 May 2012 05:43 (UTC +04:00)

The capture of four Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists who entered the Akçakale district of the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa from Syria over the weekend has fuelled fears in Ankara that the terrorist organization may send additional members across the border to stage attacks in Turkey Today's Zaman reported.

Gendarmerie units captured four terrorists who had received bomb training in camps in northern Syria. İsmail K., Haşim D., Mehmet Nedim T. and Yılmaz A. were transferred to the custody of the Şanlıurfa police from the gendarmerie for questioning. Police sources say the terrorists were planning to bomb several locations in Turkey. This has led to concern in Turkey that the PKK may take advantage of the political turmoil in Syria to revive its presence in the northern region of the conflict-ridden country, enabling it to cross the Turkish border in and stage attacks against military posts in southeastern Turkey. This would require the opening a new front against the PKK in addition to that in northern Iraq and may further complicate the operations of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

This possibility adds another dimension to the tense relations between Turkey and Syria, as Ankara has already suggested it may intervene in its southern neighbor if the PKK stage attacks against Turkey.

A prominent Kurdish politician from Syria, Salah Bedreddin, claimed that roughly 2,000 PKK terrorists have settled in camps on Mount Kurd -- also known as Kurmén in Kurdish, or Aleppo Mountain -- in comments published on www.avestakurd.net in late March.

Veysel Ayhan, an expert on Syria from the Ankara-based Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM), told Today's Zaman on Monday that it is not reasonable for Turkey to create a safe zone, a buffer zone, inside Syria by using the PKK as its sole reason for this course of action. He argued this would create serious risks and problems of legitimacy in the international arena. According to Ayhan, Turkey must act with the international community and NATO rather than alone. He added that the Annan plan, which aimed at bring an end to ongoing violence, is apparently ineffective as the Assad regime has failed to abide by the plan and observe the conditions of the cease-fire. Ayhan went on to say that any plan to create a buffer zone inside Syria must depend on humanitarian causes and must be carried out by the joint efforts of the international community. He said that time is running out and this situation cannot continue for a long time as turmoil in Syria has serious potential to destabilize Turkey.

Meanwhile, Oytun Orhan, another expert from ORSAM, said it would be an overstep to suggest the recent crossing of PKK terrorists provides grounds for such action under international law.

He said only in the case of a huge humanitarian crisis or the apparent support of the PKK by the Syrian regime, like in the 1990s, could provide a legal basis for an intervention. He said if the PKK stages repeated attacks against Turkey, this could provide the legal groundwork for action against Syria according to international law.