09/04/2012, 00.00
TURKEY - SYRIA
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Kurds and Turks clash near Syrian border, 30 dead

The incident occurred in Sirnak province, 100 km from Aleppo. Rebels attacked with machine guns and rocket launchers. Ankara blames Damascus and Teheran for pushing separatists to sow chaos in the region.

Damascus (AsiaNews/ Agencies) - The Syrian crisis is spilling over into Turkey where Kurdish rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) attacked a security complex in the south-eastern part of the country, triggering fierce fighting that left about 30 people dead, including ten soldiers and 20 rebel fighters.

By deploying troops in Aleppo (100 km from the Turkish border) to fight the rebels, Assad has energised Kurdish rebels. In the past two months, they have taken over dozens of villages and attacked various checkpoints along the border with Turkish provinces. Clashes with the military have also occurred along the border with Iran.

Sirnak Provincial governor Vahdettin Ozkan said the militants had attacked the security complex at Beytussebap late on Sunday, killing nine members of the security forces.

In early August, 10 people were killed in a car bomb attack blamed on separatist Kurds in the south-eastern city of Gaziantep, about 100 km from Aleppo. The PKK also claimed responsibility for that attack as well.

According to Ankara, Damascus and Tehran forged an alliance with the PKK and its Iranian and Syrian branches in order to sow havoc in the region and limit the movements of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA).

According to Hussein Celia, deputy chairman of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, the PKK is working hand in glove with Syrian intelligence.

For Assad, Turkey is an enemy and Kurdish separatists are his ally. The towns of Afrin, west of Aleppo, and Qamishli, in the east, are controlled by the PKK and its local branch, the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The PKK flag now flies alongside the Syrian flag from government buildings. Both are no-go areas for the FSA forces.

In recent months, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened military action against Assad if he continues to back the PKK offensive.

The Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) is an underground armed political movement operating in the predominantly Kurdish areas of southeast Turkey. Since 2001, it has been listed as a terrorist group.

Inspired by Marxism-Leninism, it is also present in northern Iraq, Iran and Syria. In Turkey, it calls for the autonomy for the country's 14 million Kurds.

According to a Turkish parliamentary committee, the conflict between Turkish forces and PKK fighters has caused the death of 35-40,000 people, military and civilians, Turkish and Kurdish.

Last year, the PKK claimed responsibility for six attacks against barracks and military checkpoints. In response, Ankara has bombed various rebel sites, sometime across the border.

For the Turkish government, the United States and the European Union, the PKK is a terrorist organisation.

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