David Satterfield, the United States ambassador to Turkey, has affirmed that the U.S. holds the PKK terrorist group responsible for the recent cave massacre in northern Iraq, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense (MSB) said in a statement late Monday.
In the statement, the ministry said that Satterfield also expressed condolences for the 13 Turkish victims.
Earlier on the same day, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu held a phone call with his new U.S. counterpart Anthony Blinken.
“The Secretary expressed condolences for the deaths of Turkish hostages in northern Iraq and affirmed our view that PKK terrorists bear responsibility,” a statement from the U.S. Department of State said regarding the call.
PKK terrorists executed 13 Turkish citizens in a cave in northern Iraq after abducting them and shooting most of them in the head.
“In preliminary investigations, it was determined that 12 of our innocent and unarmed citizens were shot in the head and martyred while another was shot in the shoulder and martyred,” Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar said. The grim news comes as Turkey is carrying out its Claw-Eagle 2 anti-terrorist operation in northern Iraq.
“While our activities in the Operation Claw-Eagle 2 area continue, in a search of a cave taken under control following intense clashes, the bodies of 13 of our abducted citizens were found,” said Akar.
The PKK managed to establish a foothold in Iraq, particularly in the Sinjar region in mid-2014 on the pretext of protecting the local Yazidi community from Daesh terrorists. Since then, the PKK has reportedly established a new command base in Sinjar to carry out logistical activities.
Turkey has long been stressing that it will not tolerate threats posed to its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorists. Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps were not taken, it would not shy away from targeting the group. Recently, Akar expressed that Turkey was prepared to provide assistance to Iraq in clearing terrorists from the region. Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has called the PKK’s presence in Sinjar unacceptable and urged the militants to leave the area.
Turkey launched Operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle last June to ensure the safety of Turks and its national borders by eliminating terrorist threats. Operation Claw-Eagle 2 was launched last week.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.