ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish fighter jets heavily bombarded several villages over Turkey's southern border into the Kurdistan Region's Qandil Mountains to target positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on Friday evening.
Witnesses in the border district of Choman told a Kurdistan 24 correspondent that one of the bombs targeted a vehicle with PKK fighters inside, destroying it. No casualties have been confirmed so far.
Initial reports indicated that the attacks caused extensive damage to property in the Balyan area due to a fire that the explosions ignited.
Shakhawan Hussein, director of Qasre sub-district, told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday morning that, "Last night's constant bombardment damaged main roads, incapacitated electrical lines, and burned farmland in the area."
He added, "A total of 60 houses have been evacuated in villages around Qasre sub-district."
On Friday, the Turkish Defense Ministry claimed that one of its aircraft conducted a raid over the Qandil Mountains, "neutralizing" two PKK fighters and destroying "bases, hideouts, and shelters," belonging to the group.
The term "neutralize" is commonly used by Turkish officials to refer to enemy fighters killed, captured, or incapacitated.
Over the past several months, Turkish forces have stepped up military action against PKK fighters within the Kurdistan Region, including building outposts and military access roads. They have crossed into the region up to 20 kilometers deep in some areas to target the Kurdish guerilla fighters, and bombardment from Turkish jets occasionally result in the death of civilians unaffiliated to the PKK.
Skirmishes and attacks between Turkish forces and the PKK often damage property belonging to farmers and residents of border villages in both the Kurdistan Region and Turkey.
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.
The PKK took up arms in the 1980s over rights for Kurdish citizens in a conflict that has claimed some 40,000 lives on both sides. Violence has escalated since the collapse of a peace process between Ankara and the PKK in the summer of 2015.
The group is listed as a terrorist organization by several states and organizations, including NATO, the US, the UK, and the European Union. The United Nations and many other major powers have not done so.
Editing by John J. Catherine