Cemil Bayik, co-founder and a senior leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), told the BBC that the party is ready to intensify its fight against Turkey. Bayik reportedly said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was "escalating this war," which has turned parts of the southeast into war zones.
"The Kurds will defend themselves to the end, so long as this is the Turkish approach — of course the PKK will escalate the war," Bayik reportedly said, adding that "we don't want to separate from Turkey and set up a state."
Tensions between Turkey and PKK escalated starting July 2015 when a 2-year-old ceasefire — announced in March 2013 — between the rival sides broke down. Since 1984, when the PKK reportedly began fighting for Kurdistan, over 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have died in the violence. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the local government, the U.S., and the European Union.
Separately, one of Erdogan's aides told BBC that there were no negotiations with the PKK.
Turkish presidential adviser Ilnur Cevik reportedly said that the PKK was "trying to create a separate state in Turkey - this is outright secession."
Bayik, however, said: "We don't want to divide Turkey. We want to live within the borders of Turkey on our own land freely... The struggle will continue until the Kurds' innate rights are accepted."
Bayik also reportedly said that the PKK was ready to escalate the conflict "not only in Kurdistan, but in the rest of Turkey as well," because of Ankara's inflexibilities.
Turkey has continued to wage the decades-long war with separatist forces seeking an independent Kurdistan in the country's southeast.
The Turkish Human Rights Foundation had said in January that the escalation of a violent conflict between Turkish government troops and Kurdish forces has resulted in the death of at least 162 civilians since August 2015, the Associated Press reported at the time.
Last year, Bayik had also accused Turkey of plotting with the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, by attacking Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria.