Erdogan vows no let-up in fight against Kurdish rebels

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday vowed to fight on against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, in the face of mounting attacks on security forces blamed on the Kurdish rebels.

“Let me put it clearly, the operations will continue,” he said in a televised speech in Ankara, as Turkey presses on with air strikes on PKK targets in the country’s southeast and in northern Iraq.

“We will never stop in the face of all these attacks. We will continue to fight with determination,” he added.

Erdogan vowed “no concessions” in the fight against “terror”, saying: “A state subjected to an armed attack has the right to defend itself with arms.”

Turkey is currently pressing a two-pronged “anti-terror” offensive against Islamic State (IS) extremists in Syria and PKK militants following a wave of attacks.

But, so far, the air strikes have overwhelmingly concentrated on the separatist Kurdish rebels, to the frustration of Western commentators who want to see Turkey ramp up its involvement in the fight against IS.

The state-run Anatolia news agency reported over the weekend that so far 390 “terrorists” had been killed in the campaign against the PKK.

But the Kurdish rebels have hit back, leaving a 2013 truce declared by the PKK in tatters.

According to an AFP toll, 29 members of the security forces have been killed in violence linked to the PKK since the current crisis began.

Erdogan called on the PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and much of the international community, to lay down arms and bury them “under concrete”.

Until it did so, the Turkish state would continue its offensive, he said. “The most important task of a state is to protect lives.”

“We extended our hand but they responded with arms,” Erdogan said, referring to the Kurdish militants, reaffirming his verdict that the peace process was now “on ice”.