PKK clashes with Kurdish clans in Syria

Members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have recently clashed with Kurdish clans in Syria, according to the Anatolia news agency.

PKK clashes with Kurdish clans in Syria

The PKK's name has increasingly been associated with incidents of extortion and kidnapping in Syria, Anatolia said, reporting that PKK members loyal to Syrian-born PKK chief Fehman Hüseyin are behind the violent incidents in the Ayn al-Arab district of Syria. Two PKK members were killed while they were attempting to kidnap leading Kurdish Ketkan clan leader Anwar Basrawi on Monday night.

One clan member was killed during the incident, the agency reported. Hüseyin has recently been involved in a leadership struggle with Turkish-born Murat Karayılan, the acting head of the PKK.

Karayılan was recently reported killed in aerial strikes launched on May 1 and 2 by the Turkish military in northern Iraq. Earlier this week, however, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan played down reports about Karayılan's death, urging reporters to pay attention to statements made by the Turkish General Staff on such issues.

The General Staff said in a statement over the weekend that more than 150 members of the PKK, probably including senior leaders, were killed in the aerial strikes.

Last month, a PKK group led by Ömer Kokuyan launched an armed attack on Şeyho Ketkan and his family -- who are known to be close to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, who is known to be resisting PKK pressure -- Anatolia also noted. During the clash Alaettin Şeyho Ketkan, Şeyho Ketkan's son, as well as two PKK members -- Bekir Kokuyan, Ömer Kokuyan's brother; and Halil Bekir Kokuyan, Ömer Kokuyan's nephew -- were killed, the agency added.

In December Today's Zaman reported that members of the PKK from Turkey were being purged from the organization, as the fight for leadership between Hüseyin and Karayılan intensified. Karayılan, who acceded to the top of the PKK hierarchy after the capture of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in 1999, gained considerable ground when Öcalan's brother, Osman Öcalan, was also thrown out of the group.

His only rival was Cemal Bayık, but the rivalry was resolved when the two men chose to cooperate, mostly because Hüseyin, leader of the PKK's Syrian Kurds, declared himself leader of the group. Hüseyin issued a declaration saying he had taken over and promised to return the PKK's old fighting spirit. As such, Syrian Kurds and Turkish Kurds in the PKK are now competing for influence over the group. Iranian Kurds in the PKK, although neutral in general, seem to be standing closer to Kurds from Turkey.

Anatolia also said that Hüseyin has blamed Syrian officials for the death of senior PKK member Osman Suleiman Ben Hajji and that he has sent a group of PKK members to the region, ordering them to "take revenge for Osman Suleiman's death." Osman Suleiman died in February while in detention in Aleppo after being captured by Syrian officials late last year.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the EU and US as well as Turkey, and the Turkish military continues to strike PKK targets in northern Iraq. The operation over the weekend is the eighth confirmed aerial strike on the PKK in northern Iraq since Dec. 16, when the first cross-border operation on the terrorist group since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 was carried out. The operations have the backing of the US, which has been providing intelligence and airspace clearance for Turkish fighter jets.

Today's Zaman

Last Mod: 08 Mayıs 2008, 17:11
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