QANDIL MOUNTAINS, Iraq – Kurdish rebels could launch suicide attacks against American interests to punish the U.S. for sharing intelligence with Turkey after Turkey bombed rebel bases, a spokeswoman for a wing of a rebel group warned.
Turkey's military said more than 150 Kurdish rebels were killed in Friday's air strikes against bases of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, on Mount Qandil on the border of Iran and Iraq. Peritan Derseem, a senior official of the rebel group's Iranian wing, PEJAK, claimed that only six people were killed in latest Turkish strikes.
The PKK fights for autonomy in Turkey's southeast and also has a wing fighting for Kurdish rights in Iran.
Derseem blamed the United States for helping Turkey in an interview late Sunday.
She said some rebels want to join suicide squads to avenge the deaths of their comrades but that "combatants are under the control of the organization," which she said is against such attacks. That may change, Derseem hinted.
"We have changed our stand toward the United States government and we are standing against them now," she said. "Maybe some day ... individual combatants might launch suicide attacks inside Iraq and Turkey, and even against American interests."
Kurdish rebels have staged several suicide attacks against Turkish targets in the past in Turkey.
The United States has labeled the rebel group a terrorist organization and supports Turkey's fight against the group. The conflict has killed nearly 40,000 since it began in 1984.
Derseem claimed that her group was acting independently from the main branch of the PKK.
"We have common goals with the PKK and the two parties follow the principles of Chairman Abdullah Ocalan," who is imprisoned on a prison island near Istanbul, Turkey. "But we have our own decision making."
The Turkish military has launched several air assaults on Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq in recent months. In February, it staged a ground offensive that lasted eight days. Since then, clashes between rebels and Turkish troops have erupted along Turkey's border with Iraq.
Until the most recent air raid, the military had not announced an operation that penetrated into Iraq as far as Mount Qandil.
"They want to annihilate us. But we will not surrender," said Derseem. "We have been hiding in caves and nearby mountains."
The rebels said the Turkish jets fired more than 50 missiles at the site and demolished some buildings, including a meeting hall, a library and a media center.
Iranian artillery units have also been shelling Mount Qandil in recent weeks, Derseem said. Craters said to be left by Iranian shelling were visible on a mountain path leading to the rebel camp.