PKK units met with U.S. troops, says group’s leader

KCK chairman Cemil Bayik is pictured during an interview, October 6, 2015. (AFP)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Units of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) designated by the United States as a terrorist organization have been meeting with U.S. troops, a senior PKK member said.

Co-chair of the Executive Council of Kurdistan Community Union (KCK) Cemil Bayik said the PKK had sent letters to all U.S. presidents and that they had exchanged indirect messages.

“We used to exchange indirect messages via Rojava and Sinjar,” Bayik said in an interview with Responsible Statecraft, which was published on Wednesday.

The PKK leader referred to regions of northeast Syria and northwest Iraq controlled by Kurdish forces.

“We have already sent letters to all U.S. presidents. Through different mediators, some of our units have had a few meetings with U.S. units at the local level,” Bayik told Responsible Statecraft.

“They might have wanted to learn our views,” he added. Responsible Statecraft said Bayik declined to provide further details about the meetings.

The PKK, designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has fought the Turkish state since 1984.

In 2018, the United States offered rewards of up to $4 million for information “leading to the identification or location” of Bayik.

It also authorized rewards of up to $5 million for Murat Karayilan and up to $3 million for Duran Kalkan, who are also senior PKK members

Army Major John Rigsbee at the U.S. Central Command, which overseas American forces in the Middle East, told Responsible Statecraft that the “CENTCOM was not involved in, nor is aware of, any such meetings.”

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