Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed U.S. funding of Syrian Kurds for Wednesday’s terrorist attack in the Turkish capital, despite the fact a different group claimed responsibility Friday.
The car bombing in Ankara Wednesday killed 28 near a military complex. Erdogan has since placed blame on the Syrian Kurdish group PYD, however, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (also known as TAK) took responsibility for the attack via the group’s website Friday.
“This act was a revenge [for] the massacre of wounded civilians in basements in Cizre,” said TAK in a statement, “As TAK (has) declared before … we will act against every attack on the Kurdish people”
Cizre is a town in the southeast of Turkey and a major flash point in the ongoing conflict between Turkish government forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (also known as the PKK) which reignited last July. Southeast Turkey has a large Kurdish population and has been the haven of Kurdish separatists for years. A Kurdish leader in the region has blamed the Turkish forces for “massacring” civilians during the siege.
Erdogan said there was “no doubt about the fact that those who carried out this attack are the YPG and the PYD.” He placed blame on Salih Necar, a Syrian member of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (also known as YPG). Erdogan then told reporters he plans to speak with President Obama regarding “how and where those weapons you provided were fired.”
The U.S. has been supporting certain Kurdish groups fighting ISIS in lieu of deploying a U.S. ground force. The Kurdish YPG units were formed in 2004 after a split between Kurdish factions, they have since taken on a major role in protecting local Kurdish communities in Syria from the ISIS onslaught.
The Turkish government has had internal struggles with its large Kurdish minority for decades, particular with the PKK, a listed U.S. State Department terrorist organization. While not technically affiliated with the PKK, the YPG shares a similar political ideology.
The TAK has also existed since 2004, and has engaged in several attacks against Turkey over the years. It is believed that TAK is a splinter group of the PKK, but little else is known about them. As far as its ties to the PKK are concerned, it is unknown as to whether TAK is wholly separate or simply a subsidiary of the PKK.
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