Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey has said there have been many times when the US sent teams to Turkey to assist the country in fighting against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In response to a question at a recent Pentagon press conference about the cooperation between Turkey and the US, Dempsey said his country sent troops to Turkey many times before to assist the country in meeting humanitarian needs emanating from the refugee flow, developing a ballistic missile defense system and fighting against the PKK.
Listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the United States, the PKK has been waging a bloody war in Turkey's Southeast since 1984 with the aim of establishing a separate Kurdish state in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast.
Fighting between the Turkish military and the PKK has intensified in recent months, a development that some Turkish officials and analysts have linked to the chaos in neighboring Syria.
“Adm. James Winnefeld, my vice chairman, has just returned from Turkey after having talks with Turkish military and government officials on these issues,” Dempsey said adding that the US has been sharing intelligence with Turkey for the past five years.
Dempsey’s remarks came after US Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said the US army has had “few” personnel recently in Turkey in a bid to assist Turkey in handling the spillover of the Syrian crisis to its neighboring country.
"We have had a relatively few number of US Army Europe personnel in Turkey recently. Some of that has been sharing intelligence," Hertling was quoted as saying by American news magazine US News & World Report on Tuesday.