President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s resolve to battle militants would only increase after Friday’s deadly attack on a police headquarters as Prime Minister Binali Yidirim denied that Ankara’s military operation in Syria was singling out Kurdish people rather than jihadists.
Turkey was battling militants “at home and abroad,” the president said in a statement, two days after Turkey launched an incursion against ISIS and Kurdish militia fighters in Syria.
Eleven Turkish police officers were killed and more than 70 other people wounded when a suicide bomber exploded a bomb-laden truck near a four-story police headquarters in the southeastern town of Cizre.
The bombing was likely carried out by Kurdish militants.
Yildirim told a news conference that the outlawed Kurdish militant group PKK was behind the blast, the latest in a string of attacks that the authorities have blamed on the group.
The PM also denounced as a “bare-faced lie” suggestions in Western media that Ankara’s cross-border operation dubbed “Euphrates Shield” was singling out the Kurds.
“They either know nothing about the world, or else their job is to report a bare-faced lie,” Yildirim snarled when asked to comment on claims the operation was not targeting ISIS jihadists but Kurds.
He had been asked to respond to an article in German weekly Der Spiegel — which frequently riles the Turkish authorities — with the headline “Turkey’s Syria operation — ISIS is the pretext, the Kurds the target.”
Yildirim said: “Our soldiers’ mission is to ensure our border security and the life and property of our citizens. The news apart from that is just a lie.”
“You tell lies that Turkey is weak in the fight against ISIS but when we save innocent lives from ISIS you go and write this,” he fumed.
Ankara has said it will act in the operation against the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia who it accuses of seeking to carve out an autonomous region in northern Syria.
Turkey regards the organizations as terror groups who represent neither the Kurdish nor the Syrian people. The YPG are allies of the United States in the fight against ISIS but Akara argues this is a dangerous error.