ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) announced on Tuesday that it had killed five Turkish soldiers within the borders of the Kurdistan Region.
The General Command of the Popular Defense Forces (HPG), the armed wing of the PKK, said in a statement that it had recently carried out a series of operations against the Turkish army in which was able to kill the soldiers.
The PKK took up arms in the 1980s to demand rights for Kurdish citizens in a conflict that has claimed some 40,000 lives on both sides. Violence has escalated since the collapse of a peace process between them in the summer of 2015.
In recent months, Turkish forces have stepped up military action against PKK fighters within the Kurdistan Region, including building outposts and military access roads. They have crossed into the region up to 20 kilometers deep in some areas to target the Kurdish guerilla fighters, and bombardment from Turkish jets occasionally result in the death of civilians unaffiliated to the PKK.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials, including Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, have repeatedly asked the PKK to leave the area as well as asking Turkey to stop bombing within its borders.
On Tuesday, in a televised press conference with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, UK Prime Minister Theresa May used the phrase “Kurdish terrorism” in reference to the PKK.
“It is important that in defense of democracy, which has been facing extraordinary pressures from the failed coup, instability across the border from Syria and from Kurdish terrorism, Turkey does not lose sight of the values it is seeking to defend,” May told reporters.
May’s choice of words was in contrast with both Turkey and its allies’ avoidance of the term “Kurdish terrorism,” when speaking of actions by the PKK, in part to deny it more support from the people in whose name it fights.