Turkey launches new operation against PKK near Gare mountain

Gare Mountain near Duhok in the Kurdistan Region (Photo: archive)
Gare Mountain near Duhok in the Kurdistan Region (Photo: archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Turkish army bombed the Gare mountain near Duhok early on Wednesday with helicopters and fighter jets.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense said in a statement that its forces had begun “Operation Claw-Eagle 2” against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) forces near Gare Mountain.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense said the operation was carried out within "our right of self-defense based on international law."

The PKK, headquartered in the Zagros Mountains within the Kurdistan Region, has been engaged in a decades-long conflict against Ankara over Kurdish rights in Turkey. The fighting has led to tens of thousands of deaths on both sides. 

Turkey, along with its allies NATO and the United States, views the PKK as a terrorist organization.

During the bombings in the Kurdistan Region, Ankara has killed dozens of civilians unaffiliated to the PKK, and has caused extensive damage to farms and killed locals’ livestock.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has previously asked the warring sides to avoid conflict in the Kurdistan Region.   

The Kurdish units of the PKK’s military wing HPG claimed in a statement published by Firat News Agency (ANF) that the Turkish army “launched a comprehensive operation against the Gare region at 3 a.m. on 10 February.”

After intense bombing of villages in the Gare mountain region with fighter jets and Cobra helicopters, the Turkish army dropped soldiers near Siyanê village, according to the HPG.

The HPG said the clashes are still ongoing between them and the Turkish army.

Saban Xelil, mayor of the town of Dînartê near Gare, told Kurdistan 24 that the Turkish army planes and helicopters had bombed six villages in the area since early morning and that the bombing continued until 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

Due to fighting between the Turkish army and the PKK, six villages in the area have been empty for two decades and not rebuilt, he said.

Xelil added that there were no casualties reported in Wednesday’s operation, but that vineyards and some agricultural fields have been severely damaged by the Turkish bombardments.

In mid-June, the Turkish Defense Ministry launched a series of airstrikes against alleged PKK positions in the Kurdistan Region, including Sinjar (Shingal), Qandil, Karacak, Zap, Avasin-Basyan, and Hakurk, as part of a military operation which Ankara calls “Operation Eagle Claw.”

During the operation, Turkish forces have killed several civilians.

In September last year, Turkey said the operation had been “successfully completed.” However, air and drone strikes continued to target alleged PKK positions, in which also civilians were said to be killed and injured.

Editing by Joanne Stocker-Kelly