Turkey said Sunday it would do everything it could to prevent “terrorist” formations near its border with Syria that would threaten its national security.
“We will not allow the formation of a terrorist structuring near our border,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkish television channel Kanal 7.
“We reserve every right … No matter if it is Al-Qaeda or PKK we would consider it a matter of national security and take every measure,” said Davutoglu, without providing specifics about what measures Ankara might take.
Davutoglu’s comments came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Syria of allowing Kurdish rebels a free hand in the north of the conflict-torn country and warned that Ankara would not hesitate to strike.
Turkish newspapers have published with alarm pictures of Kurdish flags flying from buildings in northern Syria and reported that parts of the region had fallen into the hands of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), or its Syrian branch, the Democratic Union Party (PYD)
The foreign minister said some media reports wrongly suggested the entire north of Syria had fallen to the PKK.
“This is not the case,” said Davutoglu. But he went on: “I cannot say there is no risk. Even if there is a one percent risk, we would take it seriously for the future of this country.”
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and by much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.
Relations between Turkey and Syria have deteriorated since the start of the uprising against Assad’s rule in Syria in March 2011, with Ankara vehemently criticising the regime’s brutal crackdown against dissent.