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Tuesday 23 September 2014

An unlikely alliance in battle with jihadists

Published 23/08/2014 | 02:30

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THE US has acquired an unlikely ally in its battle against Islamic State militants in Iraq - a group of fighters it formally classifies as terrorists.

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The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), condemned for its three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state, says it played a decisive role in blunting the militants' sweep through Iraq, which triggered US air strikes to halt their advance.

"This war will continue until we finish off the Islamic State," said Rojhat, a PKK fighter speaking from a hospital bed in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish region in Iraq.

The involvement of the PKK has consequences not only for rival Kurdish factions who failed to stop the Islamic State's advance, but also for Turkey and the international community, which is being lobbied by the PKK to drop the terrorist tag.

Rojhat's role highlights the challenge the PKK represents for Ankara, which still views it as terrorist but feels seriously threatened by the Islamic State, which has seized dozens of its citizens and decapitated an American hostage this week.

Ankara has made little comment on the latest conflict in Iraq, smarting from allegations, which it firmly denies, that its support for Sunni opponents of Syrian President Basharal-Assad helped the Islamic State to grow.

Irish Independent

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