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Turkey riles Kurds over bodies of dead fighters

Turkey’s refusal to allow entry to the bodies of Kurdish fighters killed in Syria and Iraq has added to already simmering tensions between Ankara and the Kurds.
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On July 26, a truck arrived quietly at the Habur border crossing between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey. It looked like one of the hundreds of trucks that cross the border on a daily basis. Yet the refrigerated truck had an unusual cargo: 13 bodies. They belonged to fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its women’s branch, the Women’s Protection Units, who were killed while fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq’s Yazidi-populated area of Sinjar. The YPG is close to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the armed Kurdish group in Turkey, and many of its members are Turkish Kurds. The 13 dead included 12 Turkish citizens and one of German nationality. Families had already gathered on the Turkish side of the border, waiting to receive the coffins.

The passage of bodies from Turkish border crossings has become a common scene in recent years, as many Turkish Kurds have joined their kinsmen in Syria and Iraq to fight jihadist forces. The battle for the northern Syrian town of Kobani, in particular, saw dozens of bodies crossing the border to be buried at home.

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