Turkish presidency spokesman İbrahim Kalın has criticised the New York Times for a piece that he says “whitewashes terrorism”.

The piece which drew Kalın’s ire described Zaki Shingali, a leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has been involved in a bloody conflict with Turkey since 1984, as a hero to some of the Yazidi religious minority. Shingali was killed by a Turkish airstrike this week.

“This is not journalism. This is a blatant attempt by @nytimes to justify and whitewash PKK terrorism,” he tweeted.

“By the same logic, Bin Laden was a ‘hero’ to some?! Would you call Milosevic and Mladic also ‘heros’ to some people?!”

“The target in Wednesday’s strike, a man known as Zaki Shingali, is considered a hero to many members of the embattled Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, whose women and girls were forced into sexual enslavement by the Islamic State and whose men were killed by the thousands,” New York Times ISIS and Al Qaeda correspondent Rukmini Callimachi wrote.

“Zaki Shingali, an ethnic Yazidi and a Turkish citizen, was leaving a service commemorating the fourth anniversary of the killings on Wednesday in Kojo, the Yazidi village that suffered the greatest losses.”

She quoted a Yazidi civil society organisation leader who said that Shingali had come to the Yazidis’ aid against ISIS while Turkey had done nothing.

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