ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Responding to the official reports by the Turkish government on the Kurds' death toll since last July, a senior commander of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) denied Turkish claims on Wednesday.
In an interview with Europe-based Kurdish Sterk TV, a close associate of the PKK, Murat Karayilan, acting military commander of the PKK, said that the true death tolls of the Turkish army are shocking and the official statistics made and announced by the Turkish authorities are not true.
“During ten months of fighting between the Kurdish fighters and the Turkish army and security forces, about 2,345 Turkish security elements and soldiers were killed by the PKK forces, and 4,362 Turkish security elements and soldiers were killed by the Kurdish Civilian Protection Units (YPS),” Karayilan said.
The Kurdish Civilian Protection Units (known as YPS) are the armed youth formations of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) established in Nusaybin in late December to defend their neighborhoods and repel attacks by the Turkish state forces.
Regarding the death toll on the Kurdish side, Karayilan said, “About 345 PKK fighters and 376 YPS fighters were martyred, and 12 Kurdish fighters of both PKK and YPS were captured.”
Concerning the ground and air operations, Karayilan said that since last July, the Turkish army launched 275 ground military operations and 581 airstrikes on the Kurdish areas and bases.
[Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference with Croatia's Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor in Ankara November 26, 2010. (Photo: Reuters)]
Turkish government issued different death tolls and statistics two months ago.
In a speech addressing commanders-in-chief and military officers at the Turkish War Colleges in Istanbul on March 28, President Tayyip Erdogan said that the Turkish army and security forces have killed about 5,359 Kurds since last July.
Erdogan’s remarks came soon after reports by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency that said 4,432 PKK fighters have been killed since July 22 of the last year.
For the death toll on the Turkish side, Turkey's leading secular Hurriyet Daily News reported on March 28, “While 377 security officials and 285 civilians were killed in attacks, some 1,897 others were wounded during the same period [since last July].”
On Jan. 21, the British-based human rights group Amnesty International strongly condemned Turkey’s crackdown on Kurdish areas, accusing the government of collective punishment against the people living in the Kurdish southeast.
“The Turkish government’s onslaught on Kurdish towns and neighbourhoods, which includes round-the-clock curfews and cuts to services, is putting the lives of up to 200,000 people at risk and amounts to collective punishment,” Amnesty International report said.
The report further pointed out that there have also been numerous reports of security forces preventing ambulances from entering areas under curfew and providing treatment to the sick.
"Cuts to water and electricity supplies combined with the dangers of accessing food and medical care while under fire are having a devastating effect on residents, and the situation is likely to get worse, fast, if this isn’t addressed,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.
The mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey has been gripped by violence since July 2015, with security forces shelling the densely populated urban areas.
Editing by Ava Homa