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Syrian army to help Kurdish forces repel Turkish offensive in Afrin: reports

The Damascus government and Kurdish forces have reportedly agreed to join forces in Afrin to counter an ongoing Turkish offensive. Syrian state media report that the deployment of pro-regime troops is imminent. Damascus will deploy its militia fighters to Afrin "within the next few hours" to reinforce Kurds against the Turkish offensive, Syrian state agency SANA reported on Monday morning. The move aims to "support the steadfastness of its people in confronting the aggression which Turkish regime forces have launched on the region," SANA said, citing its correspondent in Aleppo. Syrian state television also announced that the deployment was imminent, without providing details. Read more: German Kurds protest Turkey's Afrin assault in Cologne Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reacted by saying any Syrian fighters deployed to "cleanse" the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) would have "no problems," but if they enter to defend the Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization linked to the PKK, then "nothing and nobody can stop us or Turkish soldiers. "This is true for Afrin, Manbij and the east of the Euphrates River," Cavusoglu added. Manbij is a second Kurdish-controlled enclave in Syria close to the Turkish border. Last month, Ankara launched an operation against the YPG which controls Afrin. Read more: Turkey's military offensive against Kurdish-held Afrin: What you need to know Erdogan and Putin to 'cooperate in fight against terrorism' The Turkish and Russian presidents discussed the latest developments in Syria and agreed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, according to Turkish broadcaster Haberturk. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the phone on Monday, with the Syrian regions of Afrin and Idlib the main topic of conversation. Monday's developments come a day after a senior Kurdish official told Reuters that the Kurds had reached a deal with Damascus. The agreement, supposedly brokered by Russia, further complicates the conflict in Northern Syria as rivalries and alliances among Kurdish forces, the Syrian government, rebel factions, Turkey, the United States and Russia become more entangled. What the Kurds said The agreement allows paramilitaries allied with the Syrian government to enter Afrin to support the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in fending off Turkish forces, the DPA news agency reported, citing an anonymous source. Badran Jia Kurd, an adviser to the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria, told Reuters that Syrian army troops would deploy along some border positions in the Afrin region. Jia Kurd said the agreement with Damascus on Afrin was strictly military with no wider political arrangements, but added: "We can cooperate with any side that lends us a helping hand in light of barbaric crimes and the international silence." Jia Kurd said there is opposition to the deal that could prevent it from being implemented. Read more: Are Turkey and Russia at odds in northern Syria? What does this mean? The Damascus government and Kurdish forces each hold more territory than any other side in the Syrian civil war. Their cooperation could be pivotal as to how the conflict unfolds. What is the Afrin conflict? Ankara launched an air and ground offensive on the Afrin region in January against the YPG militia. It views the YPG as terrorists with links to an armed insurrection in Turkey. For the Turkish government, attacking Afrin is about assuring geopolitical interests and domestic security. Are Kurdish goals compatible with Syria's? President Bashar al-Assad's government and the YPG have mostly avoided direct conflict. However, they have occasionally clashed and have very different visions for Syria's future. Both believe in a possibility for a long-term agreement, but Assad has said he wants to take back the whole country. How powerful are the Kurds? Since the onset of Syria's conflict in 2011, the YPG and its allies have established three autonomous cantons in the north, including Afrin near the Turkish border. Their sphere of influence has expanded as they seized territory from the "Islamic State" group with the help of the US. However, Washington opposes the Kurds' political ambitions, as does the Syrian government. What happens next? Jia Kurd has said forces are to arrive in two days, but the deal has not been confirmed. Read more: Who are the Kurds? Why do the Kurds want help from the Syrian government? "Over the years of the conflict, the Kurds have managed to manoeuvre about, sometimes with the rebels, sometimes with the regime," said Bente Scheller from the Heinrich Böll Foundation. "We also saw a long time back that not only the United States wanted to support them as a large international power, but Russia did too. So the Kurds looked for states and powers that support them because they have a lot at stake." Is the Kurdish-Syrian alliance a beneficial one? "I think in the case of Afrin at any rate," said Scheller, "because there it is very clear that Turkey has decided it has to carry through with an offensive, and the Kurds are in a very difficult position here. Of course, they have support from the other Kurdish-dominated parts of Syria, but obviously they feel this is not enough. There have also been air raids by Turkey and I think this has resulted in their turning to the regime for help." How does the future look? "As the Syrian conflict escalates and becomes more complex, more individual states consider it necessary to intervene," said Scheller. "Turkey claims it needs to clear all terrorist activity from the other side of its border, but this does not justify crossing the border with its own military." "We are not likely to see peace for a long time." Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

The Damascus government and Kurdish forces have reportedly agreed to join forces in Afrin to counter an ongoing Turkish offensive. Syrian state media report that the deployment of pro-regime troops is imminent. Damascus will deploy its militia fighters to Afrin “within the next few hours” to reinforce Kurds against the Turkish offensive, Syrian state agency SANA reported on Monday morning. ... Read More »

Deniz Naki: A political footballer in fear of his life

Deniz Naki has gone from one of Germany's most promising footballers to hiding in a safe house after an attempt on his life. Naki's political views have long had a big impact on his career. But how did it come to this? A little less than a decade ago, Deniz Naki was part of a German success story, named in the "team of the tournament" as the country picked up a seventh European Under-19 Championship. Naki lifted the trophy with the likes of Sven Bender, Lars Bender, Ömer Toprak and plenty of others still playing at the top level. But at the start of 2018, Naki is now at the center of a story of a very different kind. The 28-year-old with German-Kurdish roots was shot at while driving down the A4 motorway near his home town of Düren, in the west of Germany, on Monday. He is reportedly now in a "safe place" receiving police protection following the apparent assasination attempt, which is being investigated as attempted murder. He told German media how he ducked before pulling over to the hard shoulder and surviving unharmed before claiming that the attack was of a political nature. "I think that this is about a political issue," Naki told Spiegel magazine's online platform Bento. "I am a continual target in Turkey because I make pro-Kurdish statements." While it was initially reported by numerous sources that Naki was suggesting the Turkish secret service were involved in the shooting, his lawyer told DW's Gezal Acer on Tuesday that this was false and the footballer "thought an ultra-nationalist Turkish group in Germany could be behind it." Even before the latest incident, controversy has never been far from the surface of the forward's career, particularly in recent years. The former St. Pauli player has been a vocal critic of the Turkish government's treatment of the country's Kurdish ethnic group and a supporter of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) - who stand for Kurdish nationalism but are considered a terrorist organization by the European Union. Just last year, after initially being found not guilty less than a year earlier, he was handed an 18 month suspended jail sentence for promoting "terror propaganda" for the PKK on social media channels. Naki tweeted his opinion about a Turkish military offensive against the PKK and a curfew was imposed in seven cities in southeast Anatolia, in the west of Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's treatment of dissidents has been condemned in many quarters but DW's Acer says Naki's case is unique. "Until now it had often been journalists or academics or writers who felt threatened, but we haven't heard of this happening with any other athletes," she said. "So we can't say concretely that athletes or sports figures are feeling under threat or in danger." Whether the threat is from government agencies or otherwise, Naki's political beliefs, and the consequences of those beliefs, have had a significant impact on his career. A tally of eight goals in 12 games this season shows at least some of the ability that shone so brightly as a teenager remains, despite the lowly level at which he now plays. After that European Championship win and a couple of caps for the German under-21 side alongside the likes of Toni Kroos, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, Naki left Bayer Leverkusen for St. Pauli, a famously left wing club based in Hamburg. He was, and remains, a popular figure at the club but his stint is probably best remembered for his throat-slitting gesture during St Pauli's 2-0 win over Hansa Rostock in 2009. Clashes between the two had long been dangerously charged, with the right wing elements of Rostock's fan base opposed to the ideology espoused by St. Pauli, and the gesture was considered to incite violence. Naki received a three match ban for that, nine matches less than he'd eventually get for his social media support of the PKK, and, after a brief spell at Paderborn, he moved to Turkey, the country to which he'd pledged his national team allegiance after a pair of caps for Germany's under-21s — though he's yet to win a cap. Soon after his move to Genclerbirligi, Naki was the victim of an attack, the reason for which was thought to be his Kurdish ethnicity. "They were swearing and asking: 'Are you that dirty Kurd?'" Naki told the BBC after the 2014 attack. "Then they said: 'Damn your Kobane, damn your Sinjar'. I tried to calm them down. But suddenly one of them punched me in the eye. Trying to defend myself, I punched one of them back and started running away." He left the country a few days after, citing the possibility of further attacks as the reason for his departure. "There is no tolerance. I would only go back because I love my country, I love my hometown. That's it. I will carry on with my career in Germany," he said at the time. But it was a stone's throw from his hometown of Düren that his car windscreen was struck by a bullet. “I always knew that something like this could happen, but I would never have thought it could happen in Germany,” he told German newspaper Die Welt on Monday. Less than 48 hours after a gunman made him fear for his life, Naki's future — both sporting and otherwise — is unclear, much like his assailant. What has become increasingly obvious is that he is a sportsman doesn't seem prepared to separate his sport and his politics. The cost of that could have been, and still might be, enormous.

Deniz Naki has gone from one of Germany’s most promising footballers to hiding in a safe house after an attempt on his life. Naki’s political views have long had a big impact on his career. But how did it come to this? A little less than a decade ago, Deniz Naki was part of a German success story, named in ... Read More »

Germany: Turkey made 81 extradition requests since failed coup

Turkey has expressed frustration at Germany's lack of movement on extradition requests after a failed coup. A German lawmaker said Berlin should "exert resistance" to instead get German citizens out of Turkish custody. Since the failed coup of July 2016, Turkey has requested the extradition of 81 people from Germany, according to the Justice Ministry's response to an inquiry from the Left Party's parliamentary party. The Justice Ministry, however, did not provide information on how many of those requests were based on terrorism charges or whether Berlin complied with the requests. Read more: Turkey: Is Germany Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 'best enemy'? Turkey has accused Germany of harboring thousands of suspects allegedly involved in a failed coup on July 15, 2016 that left more than 200 people dead, including soldiers and civilians. 'Exert resistance' Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in November last year that Ankara had already requested more than 4,000 suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Read more: 'Erdogan wants to establish Turkey in Germany' Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed frustration at Berlin's failure to handover suspected criminals. "Look, I've given Germany 4,500 files on the PKK, and we did not receive any feedback on any of the 4,500 files," Erdogan said. However, Left Party lawmaker Alexander Neu said Berlin should not cave into Turkey's demands, especially when German citizens remain in Turkish jails, such as German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, German journalist Mesale Tolu and human rights defender Peter Steudtner. "Instead, the federal government must exert resistance to get the German hostages out of custody," Neu said. Authoritarian turn Since the failed coup, Ankara has orchestrated a nationwide crackdown on suspected supporters of self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, who allegedly masterminded the putsch. More than 50,000 people have been arbitrarily jailed and more than 120,000 others purged from the armed forces and civil services. Human rights groups and UN organizations have criticized the sweeping purges and detentions, saying it amounts to an authoritarian shift in the Anatolian nation.

Turkey has expressed frustration at Germany’s lack of movement on extradition requests after a failed coup. A German lawmaker said Berlin should “exert resistance” to instead get German citizens out of Turkish custody. Since the failed coup of July 2016, Turkey has requested the extradition of 81 people from Germany, according to the Justice Ministry’s response to an inquiry from ... Read More »

Turkish foreign minister warns US arming of Syrian Kurds poses threat

Turkey's top diplomat has decried the US order to arm a Syrian Kurdish militia, saying each weapon they hold is a direct threat to Turkey. President Erdogan will travel to Washington next week to take up the issue. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned on Wednesday that arming the People's Protection Units (YPG) Syrian Kurdish militia was no different to arming the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) group fighting in Turkey. Cavusoglu's remarks came as the US signed off on an order to arm YPG fighters in the fight to recapture the Syrian city of Raqqa, the last remaining stronghold of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) jihadist group. Turkey, however, classifies the YPG as a terrorist group. "Both the PKK and the YPG are terrorist organizations and they are no different, apart from their names," Cavusoglu told reporters during a visit to Montenegro. "Every weapon seized by them is a threat to Turkey." - More than 200 people from Germany fighting with Kurds against 'IS' - Turkey spars with US military over Syrian Kurds Turkey's top diplomat added that the US was well aware of Ankara's stance and that the issue would be discussed when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets his US counterpart Donald Trump during a visit to Washington next week. Read more: Turkey carries out airstrikes on 'Kurdish rebel positions' in Iraq, Syria Earlier on Wednesday, quoting Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli was quoted by Turkish media of saying that the US' order was "unacceptable" and that he hoped Washington would reverse its decision. US: Kurdish assistance necessary in fight against IS However, in announcing the order, the US appeared to double down on its position that Kurds provide crucial help in wiping out IS and liberating Raqqa. "We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner, Turkey," Defense Department spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement on Tuesday. "We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the US is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally." The Pentagon stressed that assisting the YPG was "necessary to ensure a clear victory" against IS in Raqqa. The US and western powers have been backing a Syrian alliance of militias, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), fighting IS. Among its groups is the Kurdish YPG. YPG welcomes arms The YPG militia hailed the US' decision to provide it with arms, calling the decision "historic" and a "sign of confidence" in the group. The move, coupled with the US' commitment to its umbrella coalition with the SDF, would expand its operations against IS, the YPG said in a statement. The decision was a refutation of "distortions" likening the YPG to a terrorist group, it added.

Turkey’s top diplomat has decried the US order to arm a Syrian Kurdish militia, saying each weapon they hold is a direct threat to Turkey. President Erdogan will travel to Washington next week to take up the issue. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned on Wednesday that arming the People’s Protection Units (YPG) Syrian Kurdish militia was no different to ... Read More »

Will the Turkish conflict come to Germany?

Anger and desperation motivated many Kurds living in Germany to march in Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund and Hanover. The protests over the arrest of Kurdish politicians from the HDP party were peaceful. Hundreds of people joined spontaneous protests over the jailing of Kurdish politicians Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Thousands aired their grievances on social media platforms. "This is Erdogan's final declaration of war on the Kurdish people," said Ali Ertan Toprak, head of Germany's large Kurdish community when talking with DW. Both politicians have been in the crosshairs of the Turkish government since it began jailing over 30,000 people that it called "enemies of the state" in the wake of July's failed military coup. The government in Ankara accuses the leftist-liberal HDP of supporting the banned Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) and thus supporting terrorism. The party denies the accusation. Nevertheless, over the past several weeks numerous disagreeable Kurdish politicians have been removed from office, journalists have been persecuted and pro-Kurdish media outlets have been closed down. The HDP's electoral success last year made it a serious political force in Turkey and Demirtas one of Erdogan's most important rivals. 'Robbed of democratic possibilities' Demirtas, says Toprak, was not only a symbol of hope for Kurds in Turkey and Germany but also for Turkish democrats. "By jailing democratically elected Kurdish politicians committed to finding a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, the government has robbed Kurds of all democratic options." Thus Erdogan is driving the Kurds into the arms of the PKK. Toprak warns: "Now the conflict will be carried out with violent means - possibly worse than at any time over the last few decades." Toprak is certain that the situation "will spill over into Germany, where Turks and Kurds live." When he speaks of Turks and Kurds in Germany, he is talking about 1.5 million people - secular, Muslim, conservative and liberal. The Turkish diaspora is just as fractured as Turkish society itself. No one knows that better than Gokay Sofuoglu, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany (TCG), an umbrella organization for some 270 associations. His organization is charged with the task of representing all of Turkey's ethnic groups in Germany. He explained to DW that this includes Sunnis, Alevis and Kurds. Mirror of Turkish society "Turkish domestic policies are very much present in Germany," Sofuoglu continues. The fact that inner-Turkish conflicts are mirrored in the German-Turkish community has been made apparent over the years by major demonstrations both for and against Erdogan, AKP rallies and even in election returns from Turks living in Germany. One trend, more than any, is clear: many Germans with Turkish roots still strongly identify with their country of origin. A comprehensive study published this June by Detlef Pollack, a sociology of religion professor at the University of Münster, showed that Turks in Germany feel well integrated but at the same time do not feel as if they are fully accepted as equal members of German society. That benefits one man more than any other: Erdogan. In Turkish parliamentary elections held in November 2015, some 60 percent of Turks living in Germany voted for his Justice and Development Party (AKP). The Turkish president has effectively used such feelings of alienation to gain voters' sympathies. His credo: you belong with us. Thus he gives many Turks living in Germany the feeling that they can be proud of their heritage and the things that "their" president is doing for them. 'Labeled terrorists' "There are groups within Germany's Turkish community that defend everything that Erdogan does because they long for a different Turkey," explains Toprak. He says that Erdogan is pushing the country towards an Islamic dictatorship. And many of Erdogan's supporters see what is happening now as "important step toward reaching that goal." The head of the Kurdish community in Germany adds: Those who are of a different opinion are "declared terrorists and handled as such." Toprak himself is attacked daily on social media platforms for openly criticizing Erdogan's policies. Just this Thursday, the German edition of the Turkish newspaper "Sabah" ran an image of Toprak together with Germany's Green party co-chair Cem Ozdemir and journalist Can Dundar, who is now living in German exile, labeling them traitors. The newspaper is considered to be a mouthpiece for the AKP. "Of course that leads many Turks with Islamic-nationalist leanings to see us as traitors," says Toprak. 'The world is silent' Both Toprak and Sofuoglu predict that there will be a number of protests and demonstrations over the next several days. "Kurds and democracy minded Turks will want to voice their opinions," explained Sofuoglu. "That will bring conflict to Germany's Turkish community." Toprak goes a step further: "If Turkish nationalists take to the streets in the next few days and call for counter-demonstrations, one cannot rule out the possibility that their will be rioting in Germany." He emphasizes: "Kurds are desperate because their democratically elected representatives have been arrested and the world isn't saying anything about it." If people get the feeling that no one is listening to them it could lead to thoughtless acts. Toprak says that Germany's federal government has a special obligation to deescalate the situation by "condemning Erdogan's actions in unmistakable terms." Demands from the Kurds are clear: immediately suspend EU accession talks with Turkey, end all economic aid and stop arms sales.

Anger and desperation motivated many Kurds living in Germany to march in Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund and Hanover. The protests over the arrest of Kurdish politicians from the HDP party were peaceful. Hundreds of people joined spontaneous protests over the jailing of Kurdish politicians Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Thousands aired their grievances on social ... Read More »

Turkey removes 24 mayors over links to Kurdish rebels

The Turkish government has dismissed 24 local mayors over alleged ties to Kurdish militants. The crackdown comes as President Erdogan pushes ahead with a purge of opposition supporters following a failed coup. The 24 municipalities in the southeastern region were run by local associates of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which is the third-largest group in the country's parliament. New administrators were appointed in all of the municipalities. Marking the Muslim Eid al Adha holiday on Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy, had been trying to step up its attacks since a failed coup attempt in July. The aim was to disrupt Turkey's military operations in Syria, Erdogan said. "The PKK has suffered a distinct failure in these bloody attacks, which it has conducted at the cost of its most serious losses in its history," Erdogan said on Sunday. "No democratic state can or will allow mayors and parliamentarians to supply the municipality's resources to finance terrorist organizations," Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Twitter of the dismissals. Nationwide crackdown President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a nationwide crackdown on opposition activists after a failed military coup against his rule in July. The target of the purge is mainly supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of masterminding the putsch. On Sunday the government also removed the mayors of four other municipalities – three from the ruling AK party and one from the nationalist MHP opposition – over alleged links to Gulen. On Friday, Turkish officials had also suspended 1,151 teachers in the Kurdish eastern provinces of Tunceli and Van. Erdogan views the HDP as an extension of the Kurdish PKK militant group. The HDP denies the claim and says it wants a negotiated settlement to the three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy. The PKK has been waging a war since 1974, when it took up arms to fight for an independent Kurdish state in Turkey's east and south. Nearly 40,000 people, including teachers, journalists, soldiers, businessmen and lawyers, have been arrested in Turkey for suspected links to Gulen. Tens of thousands of government employees have been suspended from their jobs.

The Turkish government has dismissed 24 local mayors over alleged ties to Kurdish militants. The crackdown comes as President Erdogan pushes ahead with a purge of opposition supporters following a failed coup. The 24 municipalities in the southeastern region were run by local associates of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is the third-largest group in the country’s ... Read More »

Erdogan: Wedding suicide bomber was child ‘between 12 and 14’

Turkish President Erdogan has said the suicide bomber who attacked a wedding party in southeastern Turkey was a child as young as 12 years old. More than 50 people were killed in the blast - Turkey's deadliest this year. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that the explosion in the city of Gaziantep was carried out by a bomber "aged between 12 and 14." Speaking live on national television, he also blamed the carnage on the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group, which controls large swathes of territory in neighboring Syria. "Initial evidence suggests it was a Daesh attack," Erdogan said, using an alternative acronym for IS. It was clear the group "had such an organization in Gaziantep or was attempting to make room for itself in recent times," he added. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast that went off among guests dancing at an outdoor Kurdish wedding party late Saturday. At least 51 people were killed and 94 wounded, Erdogan said. Around 70 victims were still in hospital, with 17 in a critical condition. 'Unprecedented cruelty and barbarism' In Gaziantep, the chief prosecutor's office said they had found a destroyed suicide vest at the blast site. Turkish authorities sealed off the area and issued a media blackout on coverage of the attack until their investigation is completed. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim condemned the bombing, which he said turned "a wedding party into a place of mourning." Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek visited the wounded in hospital on Sunday, describing the attack as a "massacre of unprecedented cruelty and barbarism." "We ... are united against all terror organizations. They will not yield." Multiple opposition parties also denounced the attack, along with many foreign governments including the US, Germany, Russia, Egypt, Sweden, Greece, France, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan. Reaction around the world German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a condolence note that Germany stands on Turkey's side in the "fight against terrorism." "Our thoughts are with the victims and their families ... I wish the wounded a speedy recovery," she wrote. In the Vatican, Pope Francis led hundreds of people in prayer for the victims, saying, "sad news has reached me about the bloody attack ... Let us pray for the victims, for the dead and the injured, and we ask for the gift of peace for all." US ambassador to Turkey John Bass condemned the "barbaric attack on innocent civilians," adding that Washington would "continue to work closely together to defeat the common threat of terrorism." Wave of deadly bombings Turkey has been hit by a string of attacks in the past year. The country faces security threats from IS in Syria, as well as from local Kurdish fighters linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). In June, suspected IS militants attacked Istanbul's main airport, killing 44 people. The group was also accused of carrying suicide bombings at a rally of labor activists in the capital, Ankara, last October that left more than 100 people dead. Around a dozen people were killed this week in a string of bombings blamed on the PKK, and targeting police and soldiers. Clashes between the militants and government forces have flared after a fragile two-and-a-half year peace process collapsed last year. Saturday's bombing in Gaziantep comes as the country is still reeling from a failed coup attempt last month. Turkey blamed the putsch on US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers. Gulen has denied any involvement. Earlier Sunday, Erdogan said there was "absolutely no difference" between IS, Kurdish rebels and Gulen's movement, labeling them all terrorist groups. He said attacks like the one on Saturday aimed to sow division between Turkey's different groups and to "spread incitement along ethnic and religious lines." "Our country and our nation have again only one message to those who attack us - you will not succeed!" he said.

Turkish President Erdogan has said the suicide bomber who attacked a wedding party in southeastern Turkey was a child as young as 12 years old. More than 50 people were killed in the blast – Turkey’s deadliest this year. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that the explosion in the city of Gaziantep was carried out by a bomber ... Read More »

Scores killed in blast at wedding in Turkey’s Gaziantep

ترکی میں ہفتے کی شب شادی کی ایک تقریب اُس وقت ماتم کدے میں تبدیل ہو گئی جب ایک بم حملے میں کم از کم 50 افراد ہلاک اور درجنوں زخمی ہو گئے۔ ممکنہ طور پر اس حملے کے پیچھے شدت پسند ملیشیا ’اسلامک اسٹیٹ‘ کا ہاتھ ہے۔ یہ تقریب شامی سرحد کے قریب ترک صوبے غازی انتیپ کے اسی نام کے شہر میں کھلے آسمان تلے منعقد ہو رہی تھی۔ یہ شہر ترکی اور شام کی سرحد سے تقریباً ساٹھ کلومیٹر شمال کی جانب واقع ہے۔ صوبائی گورنر علی یرلی قایا کے مطابق یہ ایک دہشت گردانہ حملہ تھا۔ کھلے آسمان تلے منعقد ہونے والی اس تقریب کو غالباً ایک خود کُش بمبار نے نشانہ بنایا۔ ترک صدر رجب طیب ایردوآن نے کہا ہے کہ ممکنہ طور پر اس حملے کے پیچھے شدت پسند ملیشیا ’اسلامک اسٹیٹ‘ کا ہاتھ ہے۔ اپنے ایک بیان میں ایردآون نے کہا کہ امریکا میں موجود مبلغ فتح اللہ گولن، جو بقول اُن کے پندرہ جولائی کی ناکام بغاوت کے ذمہ دار ہیں اور داعش کے درمیان، جو ممکنہ طور پر غازی انتیپ کے حملے کی ذمہ دار ہے ’کوئی فرق نہیں ہے‘۔ اس بیان میں ایردوآن نے کہا: ’’ہمارے ملک اور ہماری قوم کا ان حملے کرنے والوں کے لیے ایک ہی پیغام ہے اور وہ یہ کہ تم کامیاب نہیں ہو گے۔‘‘ نیوز ایجنسی اے ایف پی کے مطابق یہ تقریب غازی انتیپ نامی شہر کے شاہین بے نامی علاقے میں منعقد ہو رہی تھی، جہاں کُردوں کی اکثریت ہے۔ اسی بناء پر شبہ ظاہر کیا جا رہا ہے کہ اس حملے کے پیچھے ’جہادی عناصر‘ کارفرما ہو سکتے ہیں۔ بہت سے ’جہادی‘ کُردوں کو اپنا سب سے بڑا حریف مانتے ہیں کیونکہ شامی سرزمین پر شدت پسند ملیشیا آئی ایس کے خلاف جنگ میں کُرد جنگجو انتہائی اہم کردار ادا کر رہے ہیں۔ شادی کی اس تقریب میں بھی بچوں اور خواتین سمیت کُردوں کی ایک بڑی تعداد شریک تھی۔ کُردوں کی حامی جماعت پیپلز ڈیموکریٹک پارٹی نے بتایا ہے کہ اس تقریب میں اُس کے اپنے بھی کئی ارکان شریک تھے۔ یہ حملہ اُسی روز ہوا ہے، جس روز ترک وزیر اعظم بن علی یلدرم نے شام کی جنگ میں آئندہ زیادہ سرگرم کردار ادا کرنے کا اعلان کیا تھا۔ اس حملے پر اپنے رد عمل میں بن علی یلدرم نے کہا کہ غازی انتیپ اس حملے کے بعد بھی اُسی جذبے کا مظاہرہ کرے گا، جس کا مظاہرہ اُس نے 1921ء میں کیا تھا، جب اس شہر نے آزادی کی جنگ میں فرانسیسی افواج کو شکست دی تھی اور جس فتح کی بدولت اس شہر کے نام کے ساتھ ’غازی‘ کے لفظ کا اضافہ ہو گیا تھا: ’’ہمارا صدمہ بہت بڑا ہے لیکن اپنے اتحاد اور اتفاق سے ہم اس طرح کے بزدلانہ حملوں کو ناکام بنا دیں گے۔‘‘

At least 50 people were killed and dozens wounded in a suicide attack in the southeastern city of Gaziantep. Turkish President Erdogan said the bomber was a child aged between 12 and 14. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that the deadly blast at a Kurdish wedding was the result of “a suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14 ... Read More »

Deadly car bomb rocks Turkey’s southeast

Three people have died and several others have been injured following a car bomb explosion, close to the city of Diyarbakir. Security forces said they suspected Kurdish militants were behind the attack. Ambulances rushed to the scene in Diyarbakir on Monday after a car bomb was detonated outside a police station in Turkey's largest southeastern city. Security sources said two officers and one civilian were killed in the attack, which they suspected was carried out by Kurdish militants. The area where the explosion hit lies on a road between Diyarbakir and the district of Bismil, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) east. Since the collapse of a ceasefire between the state and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) last year, Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast has seen some of the country's most intense fighting in decades. Just last week, 12 people were killed in a series of attacks targeting Turkish police and soldiers.

Three people have died and several others have been injured following a car bomb explosion, close to the city of Diyarbakir. Security forces said they suspected Kurdish militants were behind the attack. Ambulances rushed to the scene in Diyarbakir on Monday after a car bomb was detonated outside a police station in Turkey’s largest southeastern city. Security sources said two ... Read More »

Terrorism in Turkey: threat from two sides

استنبول میں ترکی کے سب سے بڑے ہوائی اڈے پر منگل کی رات تین خود کش حملہ آوروں کی طرف سے کیے گئے دہشت گردانہ حملے میں ہلاک ہونے والوں کی تعداد بڑھ کر اکتالیس ہو گئی ہے، جن میں کم از کم تیرہ غیر ملکی بھی شامل ہیں۔ اس حملے میں تین مسلح حملہ آوروں نے منگل اٹھائیس جون کو مقامی وقت کے مطابق رات دس بجے سے کچھ دیر قبل شہر کے اتاترک ایئر پورٹ پر خود کو بم دھماکوں سے اڑا دیا تھا۔ اس سے قبل ایک حملہ آور نے ہوائی اڈے کے ایک لاؤنج میں اندھا دھند فائرنگ بھی شروع کر دی تھی۔ پھر جب اس کے باقی دو ساتھیوں نے ایک سکیورٹی چیک پوسٹ کو زبردستی پار کرنے کی کوشش کی تو موقع پر موجود اہلکاروں کی طرف سے ان پر فائرنگ بھی کی گئی تھی۔ لیکن اس سے قبل کہ ان حملہ آوروں کو ہلاک کر دیا جاتا یا انہیں گرفتار کر لیا جاتا، انہوں نے خود کو دھماکوں سے اڑا دیا تھا۔ استنبول کا اتاترک ایئر پورٹ نہ صرف ترکی کا سب سے بڑا ہوائی اڈہ ہے بلکہ وہ یورپ کا تیسرا مصروف ترین ایئر پورٹ بھی ہے۔ آج بدھ انتیس جون کی صبح تک ملنے والی رپورٹوں میں اس تہرے خود کش حملے کے باعث ہلاک ہونے والوں کی تعداد 36 اور زخمیوں کی تعداد ڈیڑھ سو کے قریب بتائی گئی تھی۔ تاہم استنبول سے بدھ کی سہ پہر ملنے والی رپورٹوں میں بتایا گیا کہ اس خونریز حملے میں ہلاکتوں کی تعداد بڑھ کر اب 41 ہو گئی ہے، جن میں سے کم از کم 13 غیر ملکی تھے۔ اس کے علاوہ کئی لاپتہ افراد کی بھی اب تک کوئی خبر نہیں جبکہ زخمیوں کی مجموعی تعداد اب 239 بتائی جا رہی ہے۔ استنبول کے گورنر کے دفتر کے جاری کردہ اعداد و شمار کے مطابق مرنے والوں کی اس تعداد میں خود کش حملہ آوروں کو شمار نہیں کیا گیا۔ ’’اگر انہیں بھی شمار کیا جائے تو ہلاک شدگان کی تعداد 44 بنتی ہے۔‘‘ نیوز ایجنسی ایسوسی ایٹڈ پریس کی رپورٹوں کے مطابق اس حملے کا مقصد بظاہر ترکی میں سیاحت کی اس صنعت کو نشانہ بنانا تھا، جو انقرہ حکومت کے لیے سالانہ بنیادوں پر غیر ملکی زر مبادلہ کی کمائی کا ایک انتہائی اہم ذریعہ ہے۔ ترک حکام نے آج ہی یہ بھی بتایا کہ حملہ آور ایک ٹیکسی کے ذریعے اتاترک ایئر پورٹ پہنچے تھے اور یہ بات ابھی تک واضح نہیں کہ آیا حملہ آوروں کے ساتھ ان کے کوئی ایسی ساتھی بھی تھے، جو ابھی تک پکڑے نہیں جا سکے۔ اس حملے کے فوری بعد اتاترک ایئر پورٹ کو ہر قسم کی فضائی ٹریفک کے لیے بند کر دیا گیا تھا تاہم اس حملے کے قریب بارہ گھنٹے بعد اسے آج بدھ کی صبح معمول کی مسافر پروازوں کے لیے دوبارہ کھول دیا گیا۔ ترک وزیر اعظم بن علی یلدرم کے مطابق بظاہر یہ حملہ دہشت گرد تنظیم ’اسلامک اسٹیٹ‘ یا داعش کی کارروائی ہے، جو پہلے بھی ترکی میں کئی حملے کر چکی ہے اور ماضی میں ترک حکومت کو بار بار انتقامی حملوں کی دھمکیاں بھی دے چکی ہے۔ نیوز ایجنسی اے ایف پی نے لکھا ہے کہ استنبول ایئر پورٹ پر خود کش حملے میں اب تک جن ہلاک شدگان کی باقاعدہ شناخت ہو چکی ہے، ان میں سے 23 ترک شہری تھے اور کم از کم 13 غیر ملکی۔ مرنے والے غیر ملکیوں میں سے پانچ کا تعلق سعودی عرب سے اور دو کا عراق سے تھا۔ اس کے علاوہ اسی حملے میں تیونس، ازبکستان، چین، ایران، یوکرائن اور اردن کے ایک ایک شہری کی ہلاکت کی بھی تصدیق ہو گئی ہے۔

The bombing at Ataturk Airport is the most recent attack in a long line of lethal assaults Turkey has seen over the past year. The country is struggling to defend itself against Kurdish militants and Islamist terrorists. Turkey is still in shock after three suicide bombers killed at least 41 people and injured 239 more at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport ... Read More »

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