Micaela Burrow on November 14, 2022
Turkey appeared to suggest the U.S. played a role in Sunday’s deadly bomb attack on a busy Istanbul street in televised remarks Monday, according to The New York Times.
“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our NATO Ally Turkiye in countering terrorism,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Sunday following the attack that killed six people and wounded scores, using the recently-adopted official spelling of the country’s name. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Ankara “rejects” U.S. condolences and added that “the killer is among the first ones returning to the scene,” appearing to reference the U.S. ask the “killer,” the NYT reported.
“We do not accept the US embassy’s message of condolences. We reject it,” Soylu said, according to AFP.
In the hours after the attack, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the circumstances of the explosion indicated terrorism, and that while an Islamic State as the perpetrator could not be ruled out, Turkish intelligence primarily suspected the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) of carrying out the attack, according to Reuters. While the U.S. and Turkey are allies and have cooperated on nuclear nonproliferation and other security issues, Turkey often accuses the U.S. of supplying weapons to the Kurdish fighters, according to the NYT.
The U.S. has a strained military partnership with certain Kurdish resistance groups in northern Iraq and Syria to counter the Islamic State, including with individuals linked to the PKK, according to a U.S. government report. The U.S. and Turkey have designated the PKK a terrorist group,
The U.S. decided to directly arm the Kurdish YPG militia, a group Turkey characterizes as the Syria-based affiliate of the PKK, in 2017, according to Reuters.
On Monday, Turkish authorities arrested a Syrian woman suspected of planting an explosive disguised as a handbag on Istanbul’s bustling Istiklal street, claiming that Kurdish militant groups had directed her to carry out the attack, the NYT reported.
The PKK immediately rejected Turkey’s accusations, according to AFP.
“Our people and the democratic public know closely that we are not related to this incident, that we will not directly target civilians and that we do not accept actions targeting civilians,” PKK said in a statement published by the Firat news agency, AFP reported.
Turkish authorities detained 46 people total, according to AFP.
While both tourists and Istanbul residents frequent Istiklal Street, the six individuals killed were all Turkish nationals, according to the NYT.
Turkey has not seen such a deadly attack in six years, according to the NYT. In 2015 and 2016, Kurdish and Islamic State militias perpetrated multiple terrorist attacks across Turkey.
The State Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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