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 Kurdish PKK rebels stormed a Turkish army post on the Iraq border, 20 killed

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Kurdish PKK rebels stormed a Turkish army post on the Iraq border, 20 killed  5.8.2012  

Heavy fights between PKK and Turkish army in Semdinli, Turkey Kurdistan. Photo: AA.

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: HPG 
August 5, 2012

DIYARBAKIR, The Kurdish region of Turkey,— Kurdish rebels stormed a Turkish army post on the Iraq border Sunday, triggering fighting that killed 20 people in the latest clash since Ankara launched a major offensive against the outlawed PKK.

Six soldiers, two village guards and 12 Kurdish rebels were killed following the assault on an army post in a village in the Kurdish southeastern province of Hakkari, the local governor's office said in a statement.

Another 15 soldiers, one village guard and five civilians were wounded, according to the statement cited by the Anatolia news agency.

The rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) launched simultaneous assaults on three border posts but the casualties occurred at a post in the village of Gecimli village, the private TV television station reported.

It was the deadliest clash since June when fighting between Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels left 28 people dead following a similar attack on an army post in the same region.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said after Sunday's attack that Turkey's fight against "terrorism" would continue.

A series of similar assaults against troops in the Kurdish-dominated southeast prompted the army to launch an all-out offensive against PKK bases in the area last month.

The Turkish ground and air operation, one of the biggest in years, is focused on the town of Semdinli, in Hakkari province, in Turkey's Kurdish region and NTV television said about 2,000 troops are involved.

"A serious and strong operation is under way in Semdinli," Atalay said last week.

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.

Turkey's latest offensive against the PKK comes as Kurds in northern Syria are reported to have taken control of some regions as fighting escalates in the uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Damascus of allowing Kurdish rebels a free hand in the north of the country and warned that Ankara would not hesitate to strike "terrorists".

Ankara claims some of the Kurdish rebels in Syria were forced to move there from hideouts in mountainous zones of northern Iraq after the Turkish army carried out several air strikes in the area.

The reported control of Syrian Kurdistan (northern Syria) by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the PKK's Syrian ally, has pushed Ankara to take diplomatic and military steps to neutralise what it sees as any potential threat.

Turkey has massed a convoy of tanks, weapons and ground-to-air missile batteries on the border with Syria and staged military drills, which have been seen by the media as a show of force against Damascus.

Ties between one-time allies Ankara and Damascus have soured since Assad's regime launched a brutal crackdown on dissent in March last year.

Relations hit an all-time low after a Turkish fighter jet was brought down by Syrian fire in June, killing its two pilots and leading Ankara to brand Damascus a "hostile" opponent.

Damascus counters Turkish accusations with claims that Ankara is supporting "terrorists" to bring down the Syrian regime down, referring to the Free Syrian Army of defecting soldiers which is based on Turkish soil near the border.

Last week, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited northern Iraq for talks with Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani about the situation in northern Syria.

"The new Syria should be free of any terrorist and extremist group or organisation," the two said in a rare joint statement.

Although Turkey has built ties with the Kurdish regional government in the north of Iraq, Ankara is opposed to the idea of a separate Kurdish state.

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.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous 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.

The PKK wants constitutional recognition for the Kurds, regional self-governance and Kurdish-language education in schools.

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.

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, AFP | | Agencies


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