Turkey's president on Monday strongly criticized the US over its failure to support its NATO ally, speaking in the wake of the terror group PKK's weekend massacre of 13 Turkish citizens.
"The blood of innocent people martyred in northern Iraq is on the hands of all who defend, support, and sympathize with PKK terrorists," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Rize during a provincial congress of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, referring to the massacre in Gara, northern Iraq.
"The blood of these innocents has contaminated the hands of everyone who defends, supports, and shows sympathy for the terrorist group, regardless of the name they use in Iraq or Syria."
Telling the US that if it wants "to continue our alliance globally and at NATO, then you must stop siding with terrorists," Erdogan accused Washington of "obviously backing" the terrorist PKK and its Syrian branches, variously known as the YPG and PYD.
Noting that the terror attack was not the first massacre of civilians by PKK terrorists, Erdogan called on US President Joe Biden to "recognize" the terror group well.
The US recognizes the PKK as a terrorist group, but despite Turkey documenting how the YPG and PYD are its Syrian branches, Washington has not recognized them as terror groups. It has armed and supported the YPG/PKK to fight the terror group Daesh/ISIS, a move Turkey calls a betrayal that makes no sense.
On the US giving the YPG/PKK weapons that the terror group used to fight Turkey, Erdogan said: "Unfortunately, we've been witnessing all of this since the beginning. They brought thousands of trucks – tanks – to northern Iraq, they brought thousands of trucks of ammunition and they handed them over to terrorists. These terrorists fought our security forces over there."
Erdogan's remarks criticizing Washington came shortly after the US State Department issued a much-criticized statement on the massacre, saying in part: “If reports of the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization, are confirmed, we condemn this action in the strongest possible terms." The US ambassador to Turkey was later summoned by Turkey to register its displeasure.
Erdogan added: "If we are in NATO together, if we are to continue this cooperation globally and in NATO, then you must be sincere with us. You must not stand by with terrorists. If you do, then you cannot be on our side.”
Operation Claw-Eagle 2
On Turkey’s counter-terrorist operation in northern Iraq, Erdogan said: "Turkey killed 42 terrorists in their hideouts, caves during the first phase of Operation Claw-Eagle 2 in northern Iraq,"
"I wish Allah’s mercy upon our three soldiers who were martyred in Operation Claw-Eagle 2, which we launched to destroy the terror nests in northern Iraq, and to our 13 brothers who were heinously murdered, martyred by terrorists," the president said.
"On the last night of these operations, we wanted to rescue our brothers through these operations. Steps were taken a result of joint efforts by our defense minister, chief of general staff, national intelligence unit, and police," he added.
On the PKK massacre, Erdogan said the terrorists viciously martyred innocent people that they had kidnapped five to six years ago.
Among the martyrs was a police officer, a soldier, and a teacher, he said.
The Turkish president also called on members of the PKK to surrender and return to their families in Turkey.
Erdogan said that the Turkish state has been forgiving to those who has been sincerely surrendering, but added that time is running out.
No one can question Turkey's operations in Syria or Iraq
Erdogan said that after the massacre in Gara no country, organization, or individual can question Turkey's operations in Syria or Iraq.
Those who committed this massacre drew strength and courage from those who hate Turkey, he said.
Erdogan stressed that from now on everyone can either stand with Turkey against terrorism or be the partner of every murder of this terror group and be held accountable.
Turkish forces launched Operation Claw-Eagle 2 on Feb. 10 to block the PKK and other terror groups from re-establishing positions used to carry out cross-border terror attacks.
Operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle began last June to ensure the safety of the people, and Turkey's borders.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.