Turkey security forces in the Kurdish region (Turkish Kurdistan).
Photo: Sky News
DIYARBAKIR-AMED, Turkey’s Kurdish region,— Turkey on Wednesday imposed curfews in dozens of villages and towns in the Kurdish Diyarbakir province in Turkish Kurdistan in anticipation of a new operation against Kurdish militants inside the country.
The Diyarbakir governor’s office said a total of 176 curfews had been imposed in the province, where the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is known to be active.
“A curfew is in place from Wednesday 0800 (0500 GMT) until a second announcement is made” in the villages and towns in the districts of Silvan, Kulp, Lice and Hazro, it said in a statement.
It said the curfews will allow security forces to “neutralise” members and collaborators of the “separatist terrorist organisation” — Turkey’s official term for the PKK.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy 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.
Since July 2015, fighting has intensified between Turkish security forces and the PKK after Ankara ended a two-year ceasefire agreement.
Since the beginning of the Turkish military campaign, Ankara has imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations are being conducted.
The group is blacklisted as a terror organisation by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.
Although the Turkish authorities insist most of these operations are over, they regularly take measures including a two-day curfew imposed in 60 villages in Diyarbakir earlier this month.
The new curfews come after Turkey launched a cross-border offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) in northern Syria.
Ankara says the YPG is an offshoot of the PKK but the militia has been working closely with the US against the Islamic State extremist group in Syria.
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