Turkish intelligence agencies are claiming that Israeli Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) spied for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman reported.
According to the report, the Turkish intelligence agencies prepared a report after two Israeli Herons were detected in Turkey’s Hatay and Adana provinces roughly two months ago. The report says the Herons were collecting intelligence on Turkish military units in order to aid PKK operations in those regions.
The report asserts that the PKK’s training camps in northern Syria, near Turkey’s Hatay border “where Turkish military border posts are relatively weak” were established in those locations based on intelligence collected by the UAVs, Today’s Zaman said.
The report also claims that Kenan Yıldızbakan, a PKK member who commanded an assault against a Turkish naval base in İskenderun in 2010, has made repeated trips into Israeli territory, a fact which reinforces suspicions of a possible link between Israeli and the PKK.
Two weeks ago, the Turkish army nearly downed an Israeli UAV that was observed spying above the Turkish 14th Hawk B. Brigade Command in Hatay’s Kırıkhan district for four hours.
Turkish media said the aerial vehicle was hovering over the brigade command post in order to capture pictures of missile batteries and radar equipment. It was spotted by military personnel, the reports said, but before they could get permission to attack it the drone moved out of range.
Turkey and Israel have been in a diplomatic row which began shortly after Turkey demanded that Israel apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals onboard the Mavi Marmara in May of 2010. The Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli soldiers who boarded the Gaza-bound ship were forced to open fire after being attacked by the activists on board with clubs and knives.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan further deteriorated the tense situation when he chose to verbally attack Israel on several occasions.