The US State Department puts a bounty on key PKK leaders including $5 million for Murat Karayilan, $4 million for Cemil Bayik and $3 million for Duran Kalkan.

PKK leaders Murat Karayilan, Cemil Bayik and Duran Kalkan.
PKK leaders Murat Karayilan, Cemil Bayik and Duran Kalkan. (TRTWorld)

The United States said on Tuesday that it is offering a total of $12 million for information leading to the identification or location of three senior members of the PKK, an outlawed militant group which has led an armed campaign against Washington’s NATO-ally Turkey for four decades.

The announcement was made by the US Embassy in Ankara following a visit by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer. It said Washington authorised rewards up to $5 million for information on Murat Karayilan, $4 million for Cemil Bayik and $3 million for Duran Kalkan.

"I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program is targeting three senior members of the terrorist organization PKK.  The Department has authorized rewards for information leading to the identification or location of the senior PKK members: Murat Karayilan (up to USD $5 million), Cemil Bayik (up to USD $4 million), and Duran Kalkan (up to USD $3 million)," the statement said.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. 

"In 1997 the U.S. Department of State designated the PKK as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  In 2001 the U.S. Government designated the PKK as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity pursuant to Executive Order 13224," the statement reminded.

More than 40,000 people, including women and children, have been killed since the PKK launched its violent terror campaign in Turkey in 1984.

Later on Tuesday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the US decision was "late" and Turkey would take the move "cautiously".

"A policy choice has been made, it seems that they are feeling forced to continue. They couldn't fool us by separating YPG or PYD from the PKK," Kalin told Haberturk, referring to the PKK's Syrian branches, which enjoy support from the US.

"It is a late decision. It will appear soon if this decision is to make a cover over the YPG and PYD," he added.

"Our expectation is for the US to finish its engagement with the PYD and the YPG ... We will take the move (of the US bounty) cautiously, but it has been done lately."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies