Ankara, 13 Jumadil Akhir 1437/23 March 2016 (MINA) – Turkey’s military says its warplanes have conducted new combat sorties against positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the southeast of the country as well as northern Iraq, killing over two dozen PKK members.
The army said in a statement on Wednesday that the aircraft have targeted shelters, caves and ammunition depots in rural areas near in the southeast Turkish town of Semdinli and inside Iraq over the past hours.
At least 26 PKK militants were killed in the southeastern towns of Nusaybin, Sirnak and Yuksekova on Tuesday alone, the statement added. Press Tv quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
The airstrikes came after the PKK killed five members of Turkish security forces in three separate bomb attacks in the southeast.
Over the past months, Turkey has been conducting offensives against the PKK positions in the largely Kurdish southern regions.
Turkish armed forces have expanded the operations well beyond the borders, chasing the PKK militants into northern parts of Iraq, while shelling Kurdish parts of Syria as well.
Turkey’s aerial campaign inside the Iraqi territory has repeatedly drawn criticism from Baghdad, which has denounced Ankara for violating Iraq’s sovereignty.
The Turkish government has also been at loggerheads with Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) based in Syria, billing them as PKK allies.
On March 11, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov slammed Ankara for the Turkish military’s shelling of Syrian Kurdish positions and for sending weapons across the border to assist foreign-backed militants.
Security across Turkey has become fragile as a result of the country’s direct confrontation with Kurds inside and outside of the country.
Major cities across Turkey have experienced a surge in violence, including deadly bombings in recent weeks.
Turkey’s operations began in the wake of a July 2015 bombing in the town of Suruc, where over 30 people died. Ankara blamed the blast on the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group. The bombing prompted the PKK, which accuse the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh, to react by attacking police and security forces.
The attacks against the PKK voided a shaky ceasefire declared in 2013 between the Turkish government and the militants, who have been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since 1980s.
The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey recently estimated that over 160 civilians have been killed in the restive regions placed under a government-imposed curfew since August 2015. The pro-Kurdish opposition also says hundreds of civilians have been killed during the ongoing Turkish military operations against the PKK. (T/P002/R07)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)