Drug trade major source of funding for PKK’s activities in Iraq, Turkmen leader says

Drug trafficking is a major source of revenue for the PKK terrorist group to carry out its activities in Iraq, the head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front Ershad Salihi said Monday.

According to Iraqi sources, the PKK has accelerated illegal drug trafficking activities across the country to fund its terrorist network.

In July 2020, Iraqi security forces arrested two suspects during an anti-narcotic operation in Kirkuk province.

“These two drug dealers are from Ranya and Kalar – towns located in Sulaymaniyah province in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq – where the PKK terrorist organization has serious activities,” Salihi told Istanbul-based broadcaster, TRT World.

Terrorist groups, particularly the PKK, have exacerbated the booming regional drug trade. The group is accused of smuggling drugs to and from Europe, as well as cultivating cannabis in southeastern Turkey as a way to fund its illegal activities.

In 2018, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the PKK terrorist group controlled 80% of the drug trade in Europe, earning around $1.5 billion (TL 11 billion) annually.

Salihi said Kirkuk police set free one of the two drug dealers – which seemed to be affiliated with the PKK terrorist group – after it opened an investigation.

The other suspect is still under surveillance, waiting to stand trial, the Turkmen leader said.

“In recent months, the PKK has been able to garner a lot of financial sources through drug trafficking, using Kirkuk as a transit point between northern Iraq and southern Iraq,” Salihi said.

The Iraqi leader called on both the central government and the KRG to inspect the PKK’s illicit drug activities more closely.

Turkish army destroys 6 PKK shelters

Turkish security forces destroyed six PKK shelters, along with supplies and ammunition, in eastern Turkey, local officials said Monday.

Acting on a tipoff, the gendarmerie command in Bitlis province launched an operation in the Merkez district Sunday, the provincial governor’s office said in a statement.

In an operation in the rural areas of Çeltikli village, the gendarmerie teams seized a large cache of weapons, ammunition and other materials, including two artillery ammunition, mortar ammunition, several gas cylinders and 1,047 kilograms (2,308 pounds) of various food products

Some of the materials were stored as evidence, while others were destroyed, the statement said.

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