The Turkish capital of Ankara was left aghast on February 16, 2016, when a car bomb exploded next to a bus transporting Turkish military personnel. So far, 28 casualties along with over 80 injured have been reported. The Turkish government reacted by singling out Saleh Necar, a member of the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), as the perpetrator of the attack.
Saleh Necar is said to have arrived in Turkey with a group of refugees from Syria several months ago. While the YPG has denied responsibility, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, has however affirmed that: “Despite the fact that their leader says they have nothing to do with this, the information and documents obtained by our interior ministry and all our intelligence organisations shows that (the attack) was theirs.”
Disregarding the denial by the YPG, the Turkish government unleashed a series of bombings, targeting known YPG locations near the Turkish and Syrian border in retaliation. President Erdogan, justified the attacks as a defense of Turkish sovereignty by stating that “Turkey has every right to conduct operations in Syria and the places where terror organizations are nested with regards to the struggle against the threats that Turkey faces.” The military response has left the international community perplexed, considering that the YPG is the military extension of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a group of militant Kurds based in Syria which is currently aligned with the United States, a Turkish ally, in its efforts to fight ISIS throughout the Turkish-Syrian border.
On February 19, 2016, after the string of bombings by the Turkish military, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) publicly claimed responsibility for the attack. The group was previously composed of members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but cut ties with the PKK as they believed that they were not doing enough on behalf of the Kurdish secession movement. In their statement, the TAK, which is viewed as a more radical than the PKK, stated that the attack to the Turkish capital was meant to avenge the “defenseless and wounded civilians brutally massacred in basements in Cizre,” a direct reference the operation carried out in the Turkish southeastern town of Cizre where the Turkish military targeted Kurdish militants. The cease fire between the Kurds and the Turkish military led to a humanitarian debacle in which hundreds of Kurds were left trapped in basements without food or water.
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