With 15 members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) killed in clashes in the southeastern province of Hakkari on the Iraqi border on Tuesday night, the Turkish Armed forces (TSK) have intensified their operations in the region and agencies have reported heavy ongoing fighting.
Cobra helicopters bombarded the area where the PKK terrorists were hiding. In addition, artillery units of the 34th Border Brigade Command hit the area with artillery fire on Wednesday.
According to reports from news agencies, 40 village roads were closed because of security concerns. The PKK terrorists blocked a number of roads and fled the area when special forces units arrived on the scene on Wednesday morning.
The events disrupted the daily lives of villagers, some of whom were not able to return to their homes from town as security forces had closed many roads between Derecik, a town in Şemdinli, and its surrounding villages due to the ongoing heavy clashes.
Listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the United States, the PKK has been carrying out a bloody war for autonomy in Turkey's Southeast since 1984. While the decades-old fighting is not as intense as it was in previous years due to a shift in the PKK's priorities, dozens of soldiers have been killed in clashes with the terrorist organization over the past several months.
In response, the TSK has also stepped up its operations against the PKK, dealing a critical blow to the organization's fighting capabilities in the region.
The situation in northern Syria has added a new dimension to the fight against the PKK, fueled concerns in Ankara. The PKK has reportedly sent more than 1,500 armed men to the north of Syria to establish an autonomous Kurdish zone in cooperation with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) -- a political offshoot of the PKK in Syria.
According to intelligence reports, the PKK has focused on making gains in Syria rather than stepping up attacks against military targets inside Turkey.
Kurdish opposition figures say President Bashar al-Assad's forces have pulled out of areas of the Hasaka and Aleppo provinces, leaving control to the PYD. "In some places the Syrian regime handed over power to the PYD and withdrew," Abdelbasset Seida, head of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), said after meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Monday.
Earlier this year, reports suggested that the Assad regime had allowed the PKK, which has stood by the regime during the unrest, to revive its presence in the northern part of the country to terrorize Kurdish opponents of Damascus.