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Iran suspected of supplying advanced missiles to PKK

By Newsroom
June 11, 2024

London-based news site Middle East Eye (MEE) reports that the Türkiye has strong suspicions that Iran is supplying advanced loitering surface-to-air missiles to the PKK, enabling the terrorist group to down Turkish armed drones. This allegation has intensified concerns about Iran’s increasing ties with the PKK, a group outlawed by many countries.

Experts analyze footage

Three independent defense experts analyzed the PKK’s latest video, speaking to MEE on condition of anonymity. They concluded it is highly likely that the Turkish drone was downed by the Iranian 358 loitering surface-to-air missile, also known as a “kamikaze” drone.

The 358 missile is a relatively slow munition without a rocket engine, making it less visible in footage. “This is a jet-propelled missile. It flies very slowly and, because it’s not rocket-propelled, if it misses, it tries to turn around and hit the target again,” one expert told MEE.

Assembling missiles in Iraq

An Iraqi source close to the PKK claimed Iran had supplied the 358 system in parts, which the PKK then assembled. This process, according to the source, has been ongoing for about two years, with some assembly occurring south of Sulaymaniyah.

Experts noted that the PKK would need a radar system or similar technology to operate the loitering missile, given that Turkish drones often fly at high altitudes. They suggested that, besides Iran, the only other entity capable of providing such location information about Turkish drones in Iraq is the United States.

Iran’s lack of cooperation against PKK

In May, Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler told a Turkish newspaper that Iran had not been cooperative with Ankara in its fight against the PKK, despite Türkiye’s efforts to monitor the group’s movements and inform Tehran.

“Unfortunately, our Iranian friends do not regard PKK terrorists in the same way as we do,” Guler said. “We say, ‘Look, brother, the PKK is here, in that house, this is the address where they are staying,’ and after a short while, the answer comes, ‘Sir, we researched that address, there is no such person.’ Of course, this is not acceptable.”

Iran’s denial and PKK’s stronghold

Iran denies turning a blind eye to the PKK’s movements and activities. The Qandil Mountains, part of which lies inside Iran, serve as the PKK’s main stronghold in northern Iraq. According to Turkish officials, PKK senior cadres have survived Turkish airstrikes by taking refuge on the Iranian side.

Increasing ties between Iran and PKK

Turkish security sources, speaking anonymously to MEE, claimed that Iran is increasingly strengthening its ties with the PKK against both Türkiye and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq.

“The growing ties between Iraq’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the PKK, along with Iran-backed Iraqi groups, are beyond regular engagements,” one security source said, referring to one of the main political blocs in the KRG.

Another Turkish source, familiar with the issue, said Ankara is closely monitoring Iran and its proxies’ recent moves in Iraq, suspecting them of trying to destabilize the region in response to Türkiye’s rapprochement and cooperation efforts with Iraq.

By Newsroom Last Updated:  Jun 11, 2024 4:26 PM