Turkey's Erdogan accuses Russia of arming PKK militants

Turkey
# 30 May 2016 21:25 (UTC +04:00)

BAKU-APA. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has accused Russia of providing anti-aircraft weaponry and rockets to militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), government officials said on Monday, confirming reports in local media, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Speaking to reporters on board his airplane after a visit to the southeastern province of Diyarbakir over the weekend, Erdogan accused Moscow of transferring weaponry to the PKK via Iraq and Syria, the pro-government Star newspaper said.

"At this moment, terrorists are using anti-aircraft guns and missiles supplied by Russia. The separatist terrorist organization is equipped with these weapons. They have been transferred to them via Syria and Iraq," the newspaper reported Erdogan as saying.

The "separatist terrorist organization" is a Turkish government term for the PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the state that has left more than 40,000 people dead, mostly PKK militants in the largely Kurdish southeast.

Two Turkish government officials confirmed Erdogan's comments, but Russia said Turkey must show proof for its claims.

While Erdogan has previously castigated Russia for its support of Kurdish fighters in Syria, the latest comments appear to be the first time he has accused Moscow of supplying arms to the PKK, seen as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and Europe.

Responding to the accusation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying: "When someone says something, let them show evidence."

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