Arabic | Kurdish

Turkey begins second phase of operations against PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan

2019/07/14 | 12:16

(Iraq Now News)- Turkish troops in the Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey, 2015.

Photo: AFP

ISTANBUL,— Turkey’s defense ministry says it has launched a new military operation against Kurdish militants in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The ministry, in a statement Saturday, announced the start of “Operation Claw-2” to destroy caves and shelters used by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in the Hakurk region.

It said the operation began late Friday with commandoes, air strikes and artillery.

Turkey’s first “Claw” operation began in May.

The Turkish military routinely carries out airstrikes and artillery bombardments in Iraq’s Kurdistan region against suspected PKK targets, but their frequency has increased since Ankara launched “Operation Claw” in May 2019, as have civilian casualties.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s Hakurk region, located 30 to 40 km south of Turkey’s southeastern Kurdish province of Hakkari (Turkish Kurdistan), now reportedly serves as the main PKK base between its headquarters in the Qandil mountains near the border with Iran and Turkey.

The Iraqi foreign ministry released a statement in June condemning deadly Turkish airstrikes in the Kurdistan region’s border area with Turkey.

Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG), led by Barzani’s KDP party, which has close ties with Turkish government, blames the PKK for instigating airstrikes in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy in Turkish Kurdistan for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population.

More than 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels, have been killed in the conflict.

A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974 and currently serving a life sentence in Turkey, has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.

(With files from AP | Agencies)

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