ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish jets ‘neutralized’ three more alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members when bombarding areas in the Kurdistan Region close to the northern border as part of an ongoing operation against the armed group, Turkey’s National Defense Ministry said on Monday.
The shelling was part of the second phase of Ankara’s so-called Operation Claw, targeting PKK elements based in the harsh mountainous areas to the north of the Kurdistan Region. The Turkish government uses the word “neutralized” to imply an individual has been killed or captured.
The defense ministry said in two separate tweets that their planes “neutralized” three members of the opposition group, bringing the total number to 71 since the country’s operation began on May 27. They also destroyed a number of outposts and confiscated weapons’ depots in the process.
On Sunday, PKK fighters and Turkish soldiers lost three members each during clashes that broke out in Turkey’s eastern province of Hakkari, the ministry also confirmed in a tweet.
Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu Agency reported later, quoting a security source, that an alleged PKK “roadside bomb” killed a construction worker and injured two more on Monday in the southeastern province of Sirnak. The group is yet to respond to the claim.
The PKK has been engaged in a decades-long insurgency against Ankara for expanded Kurdish rights in the country. The conflict has resulted in the death of over 40,000 people on both sides. The group is designated as a "terrorist" organization by Turkey, the European Union (EU), and the US.
In the past year, Turkey has carried out military operations against PKK fighters based within the Kurdistan Region with continued regularity. Turkish forces have crossed into the region up to 20 kilometers deep in some areas to target the guerilla group and bombardment from Turkish jets occasionally results in the death of Kurdish civilians unaffiliated to the PKK.
Residents of these rural areas often witness the violence as it unfolds. Those closest to the incidents usually flee in fear of getting caught in the crossfire or being mistaken for PKK fighters by Turkish warplanes. Others have captured the attacks or their aftermath on film, serving to document and publicize the significant material damage to property, infrastructure, and nature far more than in previous years.
In a meeting with the Turkish ambassador to Iraq, the Prime Minster of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masrour Barzani, raised “concerns about victims caught in the crossfire of armed clashes in the border regions,” and “called for all sides to respect the territorial integrity of the Kurdistan Region.”
Editing by Nadia Riva