Turkish media outlets have stated that a report recently presented and debated in the National Security Council (MGK) and Council of Ministers meetings indicate the outlawed PKK has been heavily armed during the peace process.
Turkey’s daily Sabah has reported that the PKK’s “urban structure” has stockpiled about 80,000 rifles in the city centers of the southeastern and eastern regions of the country.
The report on the PKK’s armament has outlined where the group has stored its rifles, which neighbourhoods have been particularly stocked with weapons, the number and the brand of weapons, and other kinds of ammunitions they have, according to the newspaper report based on anonymous security sources.
The PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, and the EU.
The report has claimed that the PKK has primarily armed in the border provinces of Hakkari, Sirnak, Agri, and Mardin. Hakkari is Turkey’s only province which has a border both with Iran and Iraq. Sırnak has a border with Iraq and Mardin has a border with Syria. Agri is bordered by Iran.
The report has also claimed that the districts of Silopi and Cizre in the province of Sirnak, and Nusaybin in Mardin have been heavily armed by the PKK.
The newspaper report has said Turkish government will start an extensive “internal security operation” in order to scatter the network of the group in the coming weeks following the airstrikes against the PKK targets in northern Iraq. As a result, the entire arsenal of the group will be destructed by Turkish security forces, the report has also claimed.
The security officials have contacted with elders of the eastern and southeastern regions in order to encourage militants to turn in their weapons. The officials have asked the elders to warn the youth wing and “urban structure” of the PKK to surrender or destroy weapons saying that “either you take them or we will,” the report added.
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas met on Thursday with high-ranking outlawed PKK representatives Zübeyir Aydar and Remzi Kartal in Brussels in order to reinstall the PKK’s unilateral ‘ceasefire’ following recent PKK terror attacks on Turkish security forces in eastern Turkey.
However, the Turkish newspaper has reported that the government will not give in the disarmament of the group even if the PKK has declared a unilateral “ceasefire.” According to the government sources, the PKK is trying to buy time through the current HDP initiative to secure a “ceasefire.”
Demirtas has called the PKK to stop armed struggle and has asked the PKK “to obey the declaration of a mutually consolidated ceasefire,” speaking in a meeting today in the eastern province of Van following his Brussels meeting with Aydar and Kartal.
He has also demanded from Turkish government that it should put aside the option of military operations based on security policies and “should declare and express its readiness for negotiation, discussion, and dialogue.”
“This is the strong expectation of the whole society,” he added.
The officials have emphasised that Turkey is particularly decisive and insistent in terms of withdrawal of the PKK from the country and the destruction of the illegal weapons, the report said.
At the beginning of 2013, the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) announced a peace initiative called the “Resolution Process” and the PKK seemed responsive under the instructions of its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan.
After the March 2013 Newroz celebrations and Ocalan’s call to withdraw its armed units from the Turkish territory, the group declared that it will follow the call and pull out. However, it is widely reported and also accepted by the PKK itself that the group has not withdrawn from Turkey completely.
At a critical time of the process, Ocalan also asked the PKK to assemble a disarmament congress in March 2015 during the Newroz celebrations. Disarmament of the group has been labelled the most important part of the process to end the decades long conflict between the PKK and Turkish government.
However, the group did not assemble the congress and Turkey has blamed the PKK’s Qandil leadership of not putting the disarmament call in effect. Tension has increased between the AK Party and the HDP during the June 7 election process and it has not been eased after the elections.
Following the Suruc suicide bombing in Turkey’s southeastern Sanliurfa province, widely thought to have been carried out by ISIS on July 20 claiming 33 lives, the tension has turned into armed clashes. The PKK has launched various attacks on both police and the Turkish Armed Forces following the bombing.
Twenty five Turkish security officials have been killed in militant attacks by the PKK and ISIS since the bombing.
In response to the PKK and ISIS attacks, Turkish security forces have stepped up efforts against the militant groups and launched air strikes in several positions used by PKK and ISIS in northern Iraq and Syria respectively since late July.
Turkish media reported on Thursday that Turkish government is planning to make a large-scale cross-border operation into northern Iraq against the PKK camps and militants next week following the numerous attacks carried out by the group throughout the country.
Turkey has long been confronted with armed attacks in its southeastern regions by the PKK, which was founded in 1974 by Ocalan and his supporters in Ankara. Armed clashes and acts of violence have continued on and off for more than 30 years, and claimed more than 40,000 lives.