Kurdistan Turkey imposes curfew, launches 'huge' operation against Kurdish fighters

Turkey imposes curfew, launches 'huge' operation against Kurdish fighters
A Turkish army helicopter carries soldiers to a mountain top in an undisclosed location in the Kurdish region. (Photo: AA)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Turkish authorities imposed a round-the-clock curfew in 18 villages in the Kurdish province of Diyarbakir as the army launched a vast operation on Sunday against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the area.

The Ankara-appointed Diyarbakir Governor's office said in a press release on its website the mountainous region and forests around the districts of Kulp, Lice, and Hani served as a bastion for the outlawed Kurdish fighters.

There was no comment as of yet on the website of PKK's armed wing, People Defense Forces (HPG) that has been locked in a decades-long conflict with the Turkish army over Kurdish rights.

The governorate release read that the operation's objective was "to neutralize high-ranking terrorists, and capture their accomplices."

In a joint statement with other Kurdish parties, the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said thousands of villagers in the area could not be reached as telephone lines and Internet coverage were cut off.

"A new addition to the violations of human rights, massacres, and genocide in Kurdistan where a dirty war is being waged," read the HDP statement.

Seven thousand troops, including 16 army commando battalions, about 800 police special operations personnel and more than 500 government-paid Kurdish paramilitaries were participating in the operation, one of the biggest seen in years.

In the neighboring Kurdish province of Elazig, the governorate announced 15 regions covering scores of villages in Alacakaya, Aricak, Karakocan and Palu as "military private zones" that would restrict entrance and exit of civilians without a permit.

Footage released by the state-funded Anadolu Agency showed 17 personnel carrier helicopters on board with hundreds of soldiers taking off from army bases in northern Diyarbakir.

Helicopters then landed winter clad soldiers on snow-covered high mountain tops.

The pro-PKK Firat news agency reported that Turkish jets, Cobra and Sikorsky helicopters were bombing the area in the last 24 hours.

Harsh curfews in Diyarbakir followed a fortnight-long one in February in the Xerabe Bava village in Mardin which became a focal point of allegations of mass arrests and torture of civilians by the army.

A renewed round of Kurdish-Turkish conflict erupted after a two years held ceasefire and peace talks collapsed in mid-2015.

 

Editing by Ava Homa