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 US Defense: "No comment about intelligence in Roboski massacre", Turkey denies report on U.S. help 

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US Defense: "No comment about intelligence in Roboski massacre", Turkey denies report on U.S. help  18.5.2012  

The U.S. Department of Defense press secretary George E. Little Photo:  See Related Links

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Photo: Reuters

Locals gather in front of the bodies of people who were killed in a warplane attack in the Ortasu village of Uludere, in the Sirnak province [Turkey Kurdistan], on December 29, 2011. Turkish warplanes killed 34 Kurdish villagers in an air strike near the Iraqi Kurdistan border. Photo: EPA.
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U.S. Defense: "No comment". Turkish army denied U.S. provided intelligence on Roboski. Turkish PM denies WSJ Uludere report.

May 18
, 2012

WASHINGTON, — The U.S. Department of Defense press secretary George E. Little has answered question on the Wall Street Journal report about the intelligence provided by American drones to Turkish army on 28 December 2011 when Turkish war planes bombed the village of Roboski killing 34 civilian Kurds, ANF News agency reported.

Little said "we are obviously aware of The Wall Street Journal's story. And what I can say about the story is that while I won't comment on intelligence sharing with our Turkish allies, we have an enduring and very strong military-to-military relationship with Turkey". The Defense press secretary added that "we work with Turkey across a wide range of national security challenges. And they're of course an important NATO partner".

Little stressed "the importance of counter-PKK efforts is critical, as the secretary indicated during his trip to Turkey last year. And we will continue to work with Turkey on counter-PKK efforts and on other challenges".

Reporters though were not keen to leave the issue there and asked whether the report was in fact "a leak"

Little replied "Is it a leak? Well, I don't know where this report came from, and I'm not going to comment one way or another on intelligence. Do leaks happen? Leaks happen, regrettably".

Asked how the report will affect your cooperation with Turkey? Little replied that "We have an enduring, solid, strong alliance with Turkey. They're an important part of NATO, we have an important bilateral and security relationship with Turkey, and we're going to continue to work closely with Turkey on a range of issues that we think are important to both countries".

The Wall Street Journal replied today to the press release issued by Turkish military stating that "Quoting a Pentagon after-action report, the Journal said a U.S. Predator drone spotted a group of men and pack animals and passed the footage to Turkey's military. The Turks identified the convoy as Kurdish militant fighters and took the decision to strike using jets from its air force".

The paper continues by adding that "The Pentagon assessment describes only the role of the Predator and doesn't address the issue of whether Turkey may also have been tracking the convoy".

The Turkish military statement said: "The first detected visual image of the group in the incident was made by the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle belonging to the Turkish Armed Forces," adding that details have been passed to officials investigating the matter.

The Wall Street Journal says that "The statement didn't make any mention of a U.S. role. Turkey's military and defense ministry have previously said intelligence leading to the strike came exclusively from domestic sources. Turkey's military and three government departments declined to comment for that article".

Turkish army denied U.S. provided intelligence on Roboski

Turkish General Staff released a statement regarding the Wall Street Journal news on 16 May, which stated ‘intelligence on Roboski was provided by U.S. drones’.

Underlining that the WSJ news doesn’t reflect the truth, the General Staff claimed that the first intelligence related to the Uludere attack was taken by Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles.

In a press statement before the U.S. visit for the NATO summit, Turkish President Abdullah Gül also evaluated the news about ‘intelligence on Roboski’. “We should trust our national sources - he said - and believe the statement made by our authorities in this respect. We received intelligence from external sources after making the first determinations by our own means. This is an ordinary process as we are in cooperation with the U.S. in the fight against terror.”

Turkish PM denies WSJ Uludere report

A recent WSJ report that said U.S. aerial vehicles provided the intelligence that precipitated the December 2011 Uludere massacre was "made up,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, according to private broadcaster NTV, and reported by Turkish Hurriyet dailynews.

"The Armed Forces already made a statement [about the report]. Unmanned air vehicles work directly under the Turkish army's command,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying by NTV today. "We acted on our own devices.”

The legal process on the issue is continuing, Erdoğan added.

The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem, Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with “terrorists”.

Since it was established in 1984, the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

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