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 Turkey accuses Syria of harboring Kurdish PKK rebels 

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Turkey accuses Syria of harboring Kurdish PKK rebels  24.5.2012  

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms. Photo: Khalid Mohammed/AP
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Turkey says Syria is helping Kurdish PKK rebels by allowing them to work from its territory

May 24
, 2012

ANKARA, Turkey, — Syria is allowing Kurdish PKK rebels who are fighting Turkish forces to establish bases in Syrian territory, as ties between the two neighboring countries deteriorate, a Turkish minister said Wednesday.

Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said Turkish intelligence indicates that Syria is allowing rebels to establish themselves in areas close to the Turkish border. Some Kurdistan Workers’ Party rebels have even taken charge of running small Syrian towns, Sahin claimed, describing the development as an apparent act of revenge against Turkey.

Turkey has reacted to the popular uprising in Syria by urging its leader, Bashar Assad, to step down, by accepting some 23,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey, and by playing host to civilian and military members of the Syrian opposition.

Kurdish PKK rebels have long used bases in Iraqi Kurdistan region to launch attacks in Turkey, but Syria had stopped allowing that.

“Terrorist groupings that were not there a year ago have been spotted,” Sahin told private NTV television. “Syria is turning a blind eye to terrorist groupings in areas close to the border to put Turkey in difficulty and perhaps as a way to take revenge on Turkey.”

Turkish officials have accused Syria of reviving its ties with the Kurdish rebels, and Sahin’s statement came a week after three Turkish military officers were killed in fighting with suspected rebels in the mountainous region of Amanos near the Syrian border. It was the first such clash reported there in several years.

Syria is believed to have stopped harboring Kurdish rebels in 1998, when Turkey threatened military action. Ties between the two countries also improved after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip came to power in 2003, and Damascus was cooperating with Turkey in its fight against the Kurdish rebels until ties soured over Syria’s bloody crackdown on civilians.

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 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 and 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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