ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish authorities in the Kurdish province of Diyarbakir on Wednesday imposed an indefinite curfew effective immediately as of 4 p.m. local time on at least 116 villages and hamlets, citing an imminent military offensive against Kurdish fighters seeking autonomy.
The Ankara-appointed governor’s office said in a press release that the operation zone covered an area falling in the northern districts of Lice, Hazro, Kulp, Silvan, and Kocakoy, a region several thousand kilometers-square large.
People were told to stay indoors at all times indefinitely until a second order.
The mountainous terrain on the provincial borders of Bingol historically serves Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas as a sanctuary.
Since the 2015 collapse of a ceasefire and peace talks between the group labeled by Ankara and its Western allies as “terrorists,” the Turkish army has scores of times conducted large-scale operations to bring the mountains under its full control.
Apart from Diyarbakir, all of the Kurdish provinces namely Mardin, Hakkari, Batman, Sirnak, Van, Agri, and Dersim continue to be highly militarized and deadly clashes occasionally flare up.
Several thousand people — mostly Kurdish fighters, and civilians, along with Turkish soldiers — have been killed in the renewed phase of the decades-long conflict, also initially fought in dozens of urban population centers for months.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration has opted for the most aggressive military policy the country has taken in decades, taking the war beyond its border.
Turkey leads an intense air campaign with warplanes and armed drones on perceived Kurdish rebel camps and targets in the Kurdistan Region.
Airstrikes there have killed dozens of civilians over the past three years.
In Syria, where the US-backed Kurdish forces are battling the Islamic State, Turkey currently occupies a vast territory spanning from the west of the River Euphrates to Afrin in Syria’s northwest to prevent any Kurdish autonomy there.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany