ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Turkish military said on Friday that its forces stationed over the southern border inside the Kurdistan Region have "neutralized" 48 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters there since late May amid intensified clashes between the two.
The figures are the latest the Turkish army has released since the country’s Operation Claw began on May 27, targeting alleged PKK positions in harsh mountainous areas in the northernmost parts of the Kurdistan Region. The two primary locations being focused on are Qandil, where the longtime headquarters of the PKK is located, and Bradost.
Turkish forces have fought the PKK since the early 1980s in a conflict that 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.
In May, clashes left two civilians dead and four more severely injured, Kurdish lawmaker Zedan Bradosty told local media on Sunday. The MP also highlighted that the ongoing conflict has left hundreds of villages destroyed.
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.
On Wednesday, fighter jets struck a petrol station and a water project in the town of Amadiya (Amedi), in Duhok Province. Initial reports indicated that at least one civilian was injured near the site and others barely escaped the attack.
“We cannot carry on living like this because we live in constant fear of being hit by the bombings or the armed conflicts,” one witness told Kurdistan 24 at the time. Locals have called on both the PKK and Turkey to take their fighting elsewhere while also pleading the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to intervene.
The KRG has repeatedly told Ankara to cease airstrikes within the Kurdistan Region and has been critical of the PKK for using its territory as a base from which to conduct operations within Turkey.
Editing by John J. Catherine