ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday vowed there would be “no concessions” in Turkey´s relentless offensive against Kurdish militants, as its southeast was hit by new deadly violence.
One Turkish soldier and two suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers´ Party (PKK) were killed on Wednesday in clashes in the southeast that erupted when the Kurdish rebels attacked a military post in the Diyarbakir region, the army said.
“A state subjected to an armed attack has the right to defend (itself) with arms,” Erdogan had said before the latest bloodshed, vowing there would be “no concessions” in the fight against “terror”.
Turkey is currently pressing a two-pronged “anti-terror” offensive against Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria and PKK militants following a wave of attacks inside the country.
But, so far, the air strikes have overwhelmingly concentrated on the separatist Kurdish rebels, to the frustration of Western commentators who want to see Turkey ramp up its involvement in the fight against IS.
“Let me put it clearly, the operations will continue,” Erdogan told local municipal chiefs at his presidential palace in Ankara.
“We will never stop in the face of all these attacks. We will continue to fight with determination,” he added.
The state-run Anatolia news agency reported over the weekend that so far 390 “terrorists” had been killed in the campaign against the PKK.
But the Kurdish rebels have hit back, leaving a 2013 truce in tatters and a peace process to end its over 30-year insurgency for autonomy and greater rights at a dead end.
According to an AFP toll, 30 members of the security forces have been killed in PKK-linked violence since the current crisis began.
Erdogan called on the PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and much of the international community, to lay down its arms and bury them “under concrete”.
“We extended our hand but they responded with arms,” Erdogan said, reaffirming his verdict that the peace process was now “on ice”.