ANKARA : Turkey believes the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is no longer listening to its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan and there is now no point in allowing him to make public statements, a senior Turkish official said on Friday.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told foreign reporters that Ocalan, jailed on the Turkish prison island of Imrali, had effectively lost control over its military leadership based on Qandil mountain in northern Iraq. Turkey is currently seeing one of its worst upsurges in fighting with the PKK in years after a two-and-a half year ceasefire declared by Ocalan fell apart in July.

Until then, lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) had regularly ferried to Imrali, returning with messages from Ocalan calling on the PKK to disarm. ‘The last time he made that call he was not heard by anyone,’ said Kalin, asked why the Turkish authorities were no longer allowing visits by HDP lawmakers to Ocalan.

‘President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan took a major risk by letting the HDP lawmakers meet him,’ he said, noting this sparked a tough reaction from Turkish nationalists. ‘We did all this in the interests of peace. They went to the island; our hope was that the PKK will listen to Ocalan, they did not listen to Ocalan.’

He said the PKK leadership on Qandil had not wanted to disarm as it saw the war in Syria as an ‘opportunity’, adding there was a ‘very strong communication’ between Syrian Kurdish fighters in northern Syria and the PKK in northern Iraq.

He said that the peace process was currently on freeze and said it would be ‘back on’ if the PKK decided to stop attacking the Turkish army, pulled out of cities and announced an intention to disarm.

Turkey has for months carried out controversial military operations aimed at rooting out the PKK from civilian centres which the government says are an essential measures but activists say have killed dozens of civilians. The military operations ‘will continue as long as the PKK remains a threat to national security,’ said Kalin.