ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Turkish military claimed in a statement on Friday that its warplanes have “neutralized” 26 fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region, including a "senior member."
The term "neutralize" is commonly used by Turkish officials to refer to enemy fighters killed, captured, or incapacitated. The identity of the "senior member" was not given.
According to the Turkish General Staff statement, its jets conducted air strikes on June 12, targeting multiple PKK bases or outposts near the Turkish border in the Kurdistan Region's Qandil Mountains, where the guerrilla group is headquartered.
The PKK has not yet released a response to the announcement.
Turkey views it as a ‘terrorist’ organization. Its members have been fighting an almost four-decade-long insurgency against Ankara which has resulted in over 40,000 casualties on both sides.
Bombardment by Turkish warplanes has been ongoing in the region since July 2015 after clashes renewed between the PKK and Turkish forces following two years of a tenuous ceasefire.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said that Ankara had launched a new military operation against the PKK in the Qandil Mountains and Sinjar (Shingal).
The Turkish military later announced on Friday that, in a separate military operation in rural areas of Turkey's southeastern Hakkari Province, their forces discovered a huge ammunition cache believed to belong to the PKK.
According to Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, it was the largest munitions stockpile found in the area, the Ikiya Mountain and Duztepe district, to date.
Soylu said that 116 Kalashnikov rifles, a DShK heavy machine gun, five infantry rifles, three anti-tank guided missile munitions, 13 PK machine guns, five RPG-7, seven designated marksman rifles, and over 400 grenades were seized.
In another statement, the military said that a total of 93 PKK fighters were “neutralized” during operations in the week of June 8 through June 14.
It also added that three Turkish soldiers were killed and 18 others wounded during the campaign.
Editing by John J. Catherine