The United States has condemned the killing of 13 Turkish citizens by Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.
“The United States deplores the death of Turkish citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq,” U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement late Sunday. “We stand with our NATO Ally Turkey and extend our condolences to the families of those lost in the recent fighting.”
Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said earlier Sunday the victims were kidnapped and killed by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
Akar said the bodies were discovered in the Gara region, near the Turkey-Iraq border, during an operation against the PKK in which Turkish forces killed 48 militants.
A statement on a PKK website said it was holding prisoners of war, including Turkish intelligence, police and military personnel, and that they were killed as a result of the fighting.
Turkey, the United States and the European Union have designated the PKK as a terrorist group. Tens of thousands of people have died since it launched an armed insurgency in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey.