PKK leaders fled to Iran following air strikes: report

Turkish media claims senior PKK terrorists fled to Shahidan camp in Iran as Turkey steps up air strikes

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Cemil Bayik, a founding member of the militant group (PKK), speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Qandil mountains near the Iraq-Turkey border, October 19, 2013.

PKK terrorists escaping Turkish air strikes on their bases in northern Iraq are reportedly hiding in camp in Iran.

According to a report published in the Turkish daily Star newspaper on Thursday, the militants are seeking refuge in a camp in Shahidan, located along the Iranian-Iraqi border.

The Shahidan camp had long been used as a base by the PKK’s Iranian branch, the PJAK, before it was abandoned.

PKK leader Cemil Bayik is also reportedly among approximately 200 senior militants running the base, which is currently being used as a safe haven for the group. It is one of five bases found in Iran.

Turkey, which has been targeting PKK terrorists positioned around its border in Northern Iraq since a ceasefire with the militant group was broken last month, is not able to conduct air strikes on neighbouring Iranian territory.

The PKK -  which is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU, the US and NATO - was once operational in Iran as well as Turkey, but halted its activities in Iran in 2011 to focus more on the war in Syria.

In August 2011, PKK commander Murat Karayilan told the Euphrates News Agency that the PKK did not consider it “appropriate” to continue being at war with Tehran while world was trying to “encircle Iran,” indicating that the PKK was siding with the Iranian-backed Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, whom the international community has repeatedly called on to step down.

PKK terrorists have have killed 36 Turkish security officers along with 6 civilians during dozens of terror attacks since a suicide bombing that took place in the Suruc district of Turkey's southeastern Sanliurfa province on July 20 claimed 32 lives and injured more than 100. The Turkish government blamed the terror attack on ISIS. 

The PKK blamed the Turkish authorities for "not doing enough to protect Kurds from the ISIS threat."

At least 36,000 people have been killed during the clashes between the Turkish security forces and the PKK terrorists since the group began its attacks against the Turkish state in 1980s.

In early 2013, Turkey launched a peace process to end the armed conflict with the PKK, but the PKK decided to end the ceasefire on July 11, 2015, citing the construction of dams in southeastern Turkey as a reason.

TRTWorld and agencies