Nov 14, 2022 - World

Turkey rejects U.S. condolences over deadly attack in Istanbul

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu (stooping with flowers) at the scene of the attack on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul. Photo: Arife Karakum/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu on Monday rejected the condolences the U.S. offered following this weekend's deadly attack in Istanbul and accused Washington of complicity.

Driving the news: Six people were killed and more than 80 wounded on Sunday in the deadliest attack in Turkey in five years. The Turkish government arrested a suspect, who authorities claim was sent by Kurdish militants in Syria to commit the attack.

  • Soylu pointed the finger specifically at the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), two Kurdish groups that Turkey's government effectively views as part of the same terrorist organization.
  • The PKK denied involvement and said it does not target civilians. An SDF spokesperson also denied any role in the attack.

The big picture: The U.S. also considers the PKK — which advocates for Kurdish autonomy and has a long history of conducting attacks inside Turkey — to be a terrorist group. Washington outraged its Turkish allies by working closely with the SDF in the successful campaign against ISIS in Syria.

  • After the Biden administration expressed condolences, Soylu said that was like "the murderer arriving as one of the first at the scene of the crime."
  • A State Department spokesperson told Axios the U.S. "stands in solidarity with Turkey, our valued NATO Ally," but also criticized Soylu's remark.
  • "We reject and are deeply disappointed by any irresponsible comments to suggest that the United States had any role or responsibility in this despicable attack on Turkish citizens," the spokesperson said.

Editor's note: This story was updated with comment from the State Department.

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