US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer on Tuesday announced that the US State Department is offering a reward for information leading to the identification or location of three senior members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as part of the department’s Reward for Justice program.
“The United States values its counterterrorism cooperation with our NATO Ally Turkey,” Palmer said in a written statement issued after paying a visit to Ankara.
According to the statement, the State Department is offering up to $5 million for information about Murat Karayılan, up to $4 million for information about Cemil Bayık and up to $3 million for information about Duran Kalkan.
The US, the European Union, and Turkey have all designated the PKK as a terrorist organization.
“During this visit, I met with a number of high-level Turkish government officials, business leaders, and members of Parliament and exchanged views on issues of mutual interest and concern,” Palmer said.
The PKK has been conducting an insurgency against the Turkish state since the mid-1980s. Armed conflict between PKK terrorists and the Turkish army has caused the death of some 40,000 citizens, along with thousands more wounded.
Following the imprisonment of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in 1999, Karayılan took over leadership of the terrorist organization. Karayılan, who was succeeded by Bayık in 2013, now controls the armed militia.
Kalkan, who lived in Germany between 1980 and 1990 as the financial head of the PKK, became a top member of the PKK after arriving in northern Iraq in 1993.
Turkish government reacted with caution Tuesday to the US decision to put multi-million dollar bounties on the heads of three key PKK leaders. “We will take this cautiously, it is a late decision,” said Turkish presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın.
Erdoğan slams the US for joint patrols with YPG
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed the United States for holding joint military patrols with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) along the Turkish border in northern Syria, expressing his belief that Washington would soon correct this mistake, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
“This is not an acceptable thing. This can cause serious negative developments on the border. I believe Mr. Trump will stop this,” Erdoğan told reporters at Parliament on Tuesday.
Erdoğan and US President Donald Trump are scheduled to meet at the Paris Peace Forum next week.
US troops in the east of Syria launched a joint patrol mission with the YPG on the Turkish border after the Turkish army hit YPG positions east of the Euphrates. Turkey considers the YPG, a Kurdish militia in northern Syria, to be the offshoot of the PKK.
The US has allied with the YPG despite its NATO ally’s concerns, believing the group to be the best local force to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.
Erdoğan also said on Tuesday that he doesn’t find the US sanctions against Iran to be right. “These sanctions aim to destroy the balance in the world, we don’t want to live in an imperialist world,” he said. (SCF with turkishminute.com)