A senior official from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was killed in an intelligence operation in Iraq, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
Erdogan accuses the PKK of using the mountainous area in Iraq’s north as a springboard for its insurgency against the Turkish state.
He said that Selman Bozkir, also known as Doctor Huseyin, was the PKK leader in Makhmur, a Kurdish refugee camp in northern Iraq.
“We will not allow the gruesome separatist organization to use Makhmur as an incubator for terrorism,” Erdogan wrote on Twitter. “We will continue to exterminate terrorism at its source.”
Turkish presidency communications director Fahrettin Altun said that “all terrorists will end up like him.”
Set up by the UN at the end of the 1990s to host Turkish Kurds, the Makhmur camp was hit on Saturday by a Turkish drone strike that left three civilians dead, said a Kurdish official from the camp.
Ankara regularly accuses the PKK of running the Makhmur camp, which is 250km south of the Turkish border.
Turkey regularly conducts cross-border operations and air raids on PKK bases in Iraq — moves that have strained relations between the two nations — launching its latest offensive in April.
Erdogan last week likened the Makhmur camp to the Mount Qandil region along Iraq’s eastern frontier, where the PKK has bases.
“If the United Nations does not clean up this district, we will take care of it in our capacity as a UN member state,” Erdogan said.
Turkish troops have maintained a network of bases in northern Iraq since the mid-1990s on the basis of security agreements struck with the government of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The PKK has waged a rebellion in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey since 1984 that has claimed more than 40,000 lives, and uses bases in Iraq to train fighters and launch attacks on Turkey.
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