European court orders release of Kurdish politician Demirtas

KONFRONTASI-The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that pre-detention of pro-Kurdish opposition politician Selahattin Demirtas was "unjustified", urging his release.

In Tuesday's judgment, the top human rights court accepted that Demirtas, who has been in jail since November 2016, had been detained on "reasonable suspicion" of having committed a criminal offence.

Rockets hit Iranian Kurdish opposition offices in Iraq's Koya

KONFRONTASI-Rockets have struck the headquarters of two Iranian Kurdish opposition parties in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, killing and injuring several people, according to officials and local media.

The missile attack hit the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) in the northern town of Koya on Saturday, according to the TV channel Kurdistan 24. 

Kurds offer to suspend independence drive, seek talks with Baghdad

KONFRONTASI-Kurdish authorities in Iraq offered on Wednesday to put an independence drive on hold, stepping up efforts to resolve a crisis in relations with Baghdad via dialogue.

But an Iraqi military spokesman suggested an offensive - launched to wrest back territory after Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum in September - would continue regardless.

The Iraqi government has transformed the balance of power in the north of the country since launching its campaign last week against the Kurds, who govern an autonomous region of three northern provinces and had held a swathe of other territory.

“The fighting between the two sides will not produce a victory for any, it will take the country to total destruction,” the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said in a statement.

The KRG proposed an immediate ceasefire, a suspension of the referendum result and “starting an open dialogue with the federal government based on the Iraqi Constitution”.

Baghdad has always considered the Kurdish secession referendum illegal. It responded last week by seizing back the city of Kirkuk, the oil-producing areas around it and other territory that the Kurds had captured from militant group Islamic State.

In a brief social media comment hinting that the campaign would continue, an Iraqi military spokesman said: “Military operations are not connected to politics.”

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said the KRG should cancel the vote’s outcome as a pre-condition for talks. Several Shi‘ite members of parliament on Wednesday asked him to stick to his position and not to accept just a freeze of the referendum.

On Wednesday, Abadi began an official visit to neighboring Turkey and Iran. Turkey and Iran both have Kurdish populations of their own and have supported Baghdad taking a hard line on the referendum.

Now that the Kurds have swiftly yielded most of their territory outside of their autonomous region to the advancing Iraqi forces, there are signs of pressure easing. Iran announced the reopening of one of the border crossings with the Kurdistan region, which it had closed earlier this month in support of the Iraqi government.

In Ankara, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was ready to give all support to Baghdad as it seeks to reopen a crude oil pipeline from the Kirkuk oilfields to Turkey. The pipeline goes through the Kurdish autonomous region. Iraq had stopped shipping oil through it when the Kurds took Kirkuk in 2014.

In a statement to media after meeting Abadi, Erdogan said they discussed what political, military and economic steps they could take after what he called the “illegitimate” Iraqi Kurdish referendum last month.

US-backed forces 'capture' Tabqa airbase from ISIL

KONFRONTASI-A US-backed alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters has captured a strategic airbase from ISIL in northern Syria in the first major victory for the group since the US airlifted the forces behind enemy lines last week. 

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Sunday that they captured the Tabqa airbase, 45km west of Raqqa, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group's de facto capital in Syria.

Kurds and refugees behind Turkey's Syria offensive

KONFRONTASI-Turkey's military intervention in Syria is more about controlling Kurdish progress than combating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), Turkish analysts say.

"The Jarablus operation may be against ISIL, but its main aim is to make sure the border zone is controlled by Turkey-friendly rebels and not Kurdish forces," says Faik Demir, an expert on Turkish politics and foreign policy at Istanbul's Galatasaray University.

Kurdish forces in fresh push to capture Mosul from Islamic State

KONFRONTASI-Kurdish Peshmerga forces launched a fresh attack on Islamic State (IS) forces early on Sunday as part of a campaign to capture Mosul, the militants' de facto capital in Iraq, Kurdish officials said.

The advance began after heavy shelling and air strikes by a United States-led coalition against IS forces, a Reuters correspondent reported from Wardak, 30 km (19 miles) southeast of Mosul.

The militants fought back, firing mortars at the advancing troops and detonating at least two car bombs.

Turkey says Kurdish fighters killed in raids

KONFRONTASI-Turkey's armed forces have killed 23 Kurdish fighters in clashes in eastern Turkey and with air strikes, according to the general staff.

Security sources said on Saturday that warplanes and attack helicopters fired on a mountainous, forested area in the eastern province of Tunceli after military drones spotted a group of about 20 PKK fighters there on Friday.

The armed forces' statement said three of the fighters were killed in the air strikes.

Turkish warplanes strike PKK targets in northern Iraq

KONFRONTASI-Turkish warplanes bombed and destroyed nearly a dozen targets belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq late on Wednesday, the armed forces said, the latest operations targeting insurgent camps near the Turkish border.

The F-16 and F-4 jets carried out the operation against the camps in the Hakkurk, Haftanin, Avasin and Basyan areas at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT), destroying 11 targets including ammunition depots and shelters, the military said on Thursday.

Syrian Kurds 'preparing to declare self-administration'

KONFRONTASI-Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria are expected to declare a federal system imminently, a Kurdish official says, as peace negotiations continue to be held in Geneva about how to end the country's five-year war.

The step, which would combine three Kurdish-led autonomous areas of northern Syria into a federal system, is sure to alarm neighbouring Turkey, which fears growing Kurdish power in Syria is fuelling separatism among its own Kurdish minority.

One of Ankara bombers was female PKK member: Turkish security sources

KONFRONTASI-A female member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was one of two suspected perpetrators of a car bombing that killed 37 people in the Turkish capital Ankara, security officials said on Monday.

The attack, which tore through a crowded transport hub a few hundred meters (yards) from the Justice and Interior Ministries on Sunday evening, was the second such bombing in the administrative heart of the city in under a month.