Thursday, February 18

BREAKING: 7 dead, many injured as blast hits military convoy in S.E. Turkey - reports (UPDATED LAST 9:15 AM EST with latest casualty figure)

UPDATE (see end of post for earlier updates)
9:15 AM EST

6 dead, 1 injured as blast hits military convoy in SE Turkey (VIDEO)
Published time: 18 Feb, 2016 08:36 Edited time: 18 Feb, 2016 12:00
Six military personnel have been killed and one seriously wounded in an explosion that hit a military convoy in the southeast of Turkey, the armed forces said in a statement. The convoy was traveling along a highway linking Diyarbakir and Bingol.
The military also said that a handmade bomb was detonated by remote control while the military vehicle was searching for mines on the highway linking Diyarbakir to the district of Lice, Reuters reports. [...]

The headline is from RT, published time: 18 Feb, 2016 -  08:36

No details at this point. This incident follows the bomb attack on a military bus or buses in Ankara last night, which killed at least 28 and left more than 60 people wounded. The attack, clearly meant to target military personnel, was well planned and occurred "in close proximity to Turkey's parliament, the Presidency of the General Staff, and Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard command," according to RT's report.

AP is reporting as of 3:42 EST this morning that Turkish authorities have identified one of the perps in the Feb 17 attack, allegedly a suicide bomber:
10:40 a.m. [Ankara time]Turkey's prime minister says a Syrian national with links to Syrian Kurdish militia carried out the suicide bombing in Ankara ... Ahmet Davutoglu said Thursday that Turkey's Kurdish rebels collaborated with the Syrian man to carry out the attack. The prime minister said authorities had detained nine people in connection with the attack. ... 9:35 a.m.
Turkish media reports say a Syrian national was behind the attack in Ankara that killed at least 28 people and wounded dozens of others.
Yeni Safak, a newspaper close to the government, said Thursday that the man who detonated the car bomb Wednesday that targeted buses carrying military personnel was identified from his fingerprints. It said he had been registered as a refugee in Turkey.
Pro-government Sabah newspaper said the man was linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.
A government official couldn't confirm the reports.
The explosion occurred during evening rush hour in the heart of Ankara, in an area close to parliament and armed forces headquarters and lodgings.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility although suspicion fell on the PKK and the Islamic State group.
RT is reporting just now as breaking news that the Syrian Kurds are denying responsibility for the attack and blame it on Islamic State. RT has no details at this point. 

This report from RT provides details on the Kurdish response to Turkey's accusation.  

Kurdish self-defense forces did not organize the attack in Ankara, Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) chief Salih Muslim Muhammad told RIA Novosti.
“This is absolutely not true. Kurds have nothing to do with what happened in Ankara. What happened there is related to Turkey's fight with Islamic State [IS formerly ISIS/ISIL], whose members live in Turkey.”
He also denied claims that the armed YPG wing was firing into Turkey.
"I can assure you that not even one bullet is fired by the YPG into Turkey," Salih Muslim told Reuters. "They don't consider Turkey as an enemy."
Turkey has pledged to continue to shell positions of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stated on Thursday.
Davutoglu claimed Ankara had evidence revealing where the militants came from and how they organized themselves, and that this information would be soon shared with other countries.
He also warned other nations against throwing their weight behind “an enemy of Turkey,”saying that this would risk those countries’ status as allies.
"Just like Al-Qaeda or Daesh [Arabic pejorative for IS] do not have seats at the table, the YPG, which is a terrorist organization, cannot have one,” he reportedly noted.
He also mentioned that senior members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) had been killed overnight in Turkish airstrikes on their camps in northern Iraq.
“Let’s not forget that whenever something like that happens inside Turkey, the first place that they are going to point the finger is going to be the PKK [Kurdish Workers’ Party],” Daniel Wagner, CEO of Country Risk Solutions told RT, adding that IS is “the likelier root of the cause.”
“If you look at some of the previous attacks, how successful they’ve been, the number of casualties that they’ve had in the recent months, it certainly seems to have a hallmark of Islamic State,” Wagner noted.
On Tuesday, at a closed-door meeting, called to discuss recent Turkish shelling of Kurdish YPG militia targets in Syria's north, the UN Security Council urged Ankara to comply with international law in Syria. The UN Security Council received a letter from the Syrian government in which Damascus condemned Turkey’s attacks in the north of the country.
Turkish artillery units have been shelling targets in Syria for four days in a row starting February 13, with Ankara highlighting its commitment to stopping the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) from claiming more territory in the north of the country. They have been pounding Syrian Kurdish forces in an apparent attempt to stop them from taking over the city of Azaz, 30km north-northwest of Aleppo.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, both government and opposition-held towns over the border from Turkey have fallen under Ankara’s shelling.
The attacks have been condemned by the international community, with the UN calling on war parties to end hostilities. The US State Department has called on all sides to avoid escalation of tensions on the Syria-Turkey border.
“We have urged the YPG to avoid moves that will heighten tensions with Turkey. But at the same time we have also urged Turkey to cease any artillery… its artillery fire across the border,” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said on Tuesday.
Turkey “sees itself at war with the Kurds internally and now externally in Syria. It is unfortunate because the Kurds are the most effective fighters against ISIS and are de facto allies of the US and Russia,” Professor of Political History at the University of Michigan Ronald G. Suny told RT earlier this week.

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