ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish security forces have killed an alleged high-ranking Kurdish militant in an operation in northern Iraq, Turkey’s president said Monday.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a Cabinet meeting that the slain militant was allegedly responsible for the Syria operations of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. He identified him by his codename, Sofi Nurettin, and said he was a Syrian national.
“The PKK’s (official) responsible for Syria … was rendered ineffective in an operation in Iraq that was conducted as a result of the long-term work of our National Intelligence Directorate,” Erdogan said. “This terrorist led the armed wing of this organization for a long time before becoming the head of its activities in Syria.”
There was no immediate confirmation from the Kurdish rebel group.
Erdogan said Nurettin was responsible for numerous “bloody acts” against Turkey, as well as attacks against Turkish troops during cross-border offensives in northern Syria.
The Turkish president also said militant was also among the commanders that had ordered the killing of 13 Turkish hostages, including military and police, who were executed by militants in northern Iraq, during a failed operation to free them earlier this year. The hostages had been kidnapped inside Turkey in 2015 and 2016.
Turkey has carried out numerous cross border incursions into Iraq over the years to fight the PKK, which maintains bases in the region.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the PKK began an insurgency in Turkey’s majority Kurdish southeast region in 1984.
The PKK has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union.