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Turkish prosecutors investigate pro-Kurdish lawmaker over Iraq visit

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Turkish prosecutors on Sunday launched an investigation into a pro-Kurdish lawmaker suspected of having travelled to a Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq where 13 Turkish hostages were killed in a failed rescue operation, Agence France-Presse reported.

Lawmaker Dirayet Dilan Taşdemir “is under investigation for belonging to a terrorist organization,” Ankara prosecutors said hours after the interior minister accused her in a TV interview.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said Taşdemir, who belongs to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), had been in Gara in northern Iraq, where Turkish troops launched the operation to rescue Turks held by the PKK, designated as “terrorists” by Ankara and its Western allies.

Taşdemir responded to Soylu’s claims at a news conference at HDP headquarters on Monday, saying: “I did not go to Gara. The claims [to this effect] are simply lies and slander. Will the prosecutors who are acting on Soylu’s statements [to launch an investigation] now act on my statements and launch an investigation into him?”

Turkey said last week that the PKK had executed 13 of its citizens whom it had held prisoner, most of them belonging to the security forces.

The PKK acknowledged that a group of prisoners had died but said they were killed in a bombardment rather than executed.

Their deaths have stepped up pressure on pro-Kurdish political groups in Turkey, especially the HDP.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuses the party of being the “political shop window” of the PKK, and dozens of its office holders and party officials have been arrested since 2016.

“The HDP is the party of the terrorist organization. [Its elected officials] have no political personality. They are hostages of the PKK,” Soylu alleged Saturday.

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