Kurdish rebels warn Turkey on pace of peace talks

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 19, 2013 at 9:11 am •  Published: July 19, 2013

Any resumption of the fighting with the PKK would be an added headache for Erdogan. Last month, tens of thousands of people held the largest anti-government protests in decades to denounce what they said is his increasing authoritarian streak and efforts to impose conservative religious views on society.

Heightening Turkish concerns, Kurds in Syria have carved out a degree of independence in areas close to the Turkish border and this week a Kurdish group in Syria took control of a major town of Ras al-Ayn, after fierce battles with rebels from radical Islamic groups. The Kurdish group, the Democratic Union Party, or PYD — is seen as an offshoot of the PKK.

Stray bullets from the fighting hit a Turkish border town, killing one teenager and injuring at least four other people. The Turkish military said it had retaliated on Wednesday and Firat said the military had targeted Syrian Kurdish positions in Ras al-Ayn.

"The Turkish armed forces have, in line with their rules of engagement, given the necessary response to the fire," Davutoglu said during a joint news conference with his Greek counterpart. "As of now, the most effective measure will be taken against any kind of threat against our border security — whichever group that threat may come from — and an immediate response will be given."

The PKK statement on Friday also accused the government of supporting the radical Islamic groups against the Kurdish fighters in Syria, further impeding the peace efforts. Turkey rejects that accusation.

The PKK, which took up arms in 1984, is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey's allies in the West.

Kurds run their own autonomous region in northern Iraq. There are fears that a similar model in Syria could strengthen long-standing Kurdish demands for an independent homeland for the more than 25 million Kurds in parts of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.