Bombs Kill, Wound Hundreds at Peace Rally in Turkey

Turkey

Two suicide bombers killed at least 97 people and injured 250 others during a peace rally in the city’s center of Ankara, Turkey’s capitol. A pro-Kurdish demonstration was the target of the twin explosions. Hundreds of people had gathered to protest against violence between Turkish authorities and the Kurdish militant group, the PKK. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack. He urged people to be against terror, not on the side of it. Turkey has been on alert since July when they began bombing ISIS fighters in Syria and PKK bases in northern Iraq. Turkey has only recently allowed US bombers to use its Incirlik airbase to target ISIS in Syria. Meanwhile, ISIS views both the Kurds and Turks as enemies.

Erdogan is opposed by the pro-Kurdish party and faces a re-election vote November 1. He has been trying to form a Putin-style authoritarian presidency. Some believe he is behind the continuing conflict with militant Kurdish groups including the PKK. 

Read more on the situation in Turkey below. 


U.S. Consulate in Turkey Attacked August 10, 2015

Two female shooters attacked the U.S. consulate in Istanbul on Monday. One was detained, and the other is being sought by authorities. No one was hurt.

In another attack, at least six Turkish security officials were killed at the Syrian border by ISIS and the PKK, a Kurdish militant group.

Hundreds of Syrian refugees are waiting at the border, trying to cross into Turkey to flee the fighting between ISIS and another Kurdish military group, the YPG.

Keeping up with who is battling whom in this area of the Middle East takes effort. Not only are there several groups in the fight, but there is no clear line between sides–nor is there a clear line between ideologies. This area continues to be troublesome and adds to the instability of the region. Below is a summary of who is who and some facts about each group.

Who are the groups battling ISIS?

Kurds – live in southeast Turkey, western Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria. They are descendants of the Hurrians and the Medes. Currently numbering 30 million, they are called the “largest ethnic group in the world without a homeland,” and have been fighting the Turks for 30 years. The Kurds control all but 68 miles of Turkey’s 560-mile border with Syria. They are 10-25% of Turkey’s population.

Peshmerga – live in Iraqi Kurdistan and have aided in capturing Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden’s messenger. The Peshmerga are waging all-out war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and have been praised in the U.S. for their success.

Fighters

Two YPG Fighters

PKK – Kurdistan Worker’s Party – considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. The PKK is Marxist and has fought to gain self-determination for the Kurds in Turkey. The PKK is fighting against ISIS in Rojava and Iraqi Kurdistan.

YPG – Armed services Kurdish group that also recruits Arabs and westerners. A Syrian affiliate of the PKK, YPG was formed to protect Kurdish areas, has become a major opponent of ISIS. YPG has enabled U.S. warplanes to strike ISIS in Syria.

Turkey – the Turks have just recently agreed to join the fight against ISIS. They have allowed the U.S. to set up a base at Incirlik to give our warplanes easier access to conduct airstrikes against ISIS– yet at the same time, they Turks are still striking the PKK.

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