Turkey has further increased pressure on the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) by attacking its hideouts in northern Iraq on the second day of a military operation while detaining dozens of suspected PKK members in a counterterrorism probe.
Pressure on the PKK was stepped up following deadly terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of dozens of Turkish soldiers in southeastern Turkey and a declaration by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said he had lost patience with terrorists fighting in southeastern Turkey. In operations against the terrorist organization in Turkey, security forces detained dozens of suspected PKK members across the country. Counterterrorism teams raided 24 separate premises in the Yüksekova district of the southeastern province of Hakkari and detained 12 people.
News reports said four suspected PKK members were also detained in İstanbul in an anti-PKK operation. The Turkish military said on Friday that nearly 100 rounds of artillery were fired as the warplanes bombed sites on Thursday in the largely mountainous areas just across the border with Iraq as well as on Mount Kandil on the Iraqi-Iranian border,
In Wednesday’s attacks, the air force targeted 60 sites in northern Iraq, which PKK terrorists use as a springboard for hit-and-run attacks in Turkey. On Friday, the Turkish General Staff released the initial images from the military’s latest offensive against PKK terrorist organization in northern Iraq.
The images show that laser-guided bombs hit PKK targets such as the terrorists’ depots, hiding places and anti-aircraft stations. The military said on its website on Friday that its jets bombed 28 sites across the border on Thursday, while 96 rounds of artillery were also fired.
“During the air operations and artillery attacks carried out, the targets have been confirmed to be those of the separatist terrorist organization. As previously announced by the General Staff, necessary attention was paid to prevent any harm to civilians,” the General Staff said in a statement.
“The activities carried out as part of counterterrorism efforts by the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] in and outside the country will continue in accordance with the necessity of military needs,” the statement went on to say.
PKK terrorists use the mountains of northern Iraq as sanctuary from which to launch attacks on southeast Turkey. The raids, the first conducted by Turkey in the area since July 2010, were a response to a surge in PKK action in recent months and an ambush on Wednesday that killed eight servicemen.
Turkish broadcasters said 16 warplanes participated in aerial raids in northern Iraq. Earlier on Thursday, the Turkish General Staff said artillery hit 168 targets in the region overnight before warplanes pounded 60 positions in two waves. Camps housing the PKK’s leaders were among those targeted, security sources said.
“Our patience has finally run out. Those who do not distance themselves from terrorism will pay the price,” Erdoğan said on Wednesday on the sidelines of a conference in İstanbul.
His comments and subsequent major air operation indicate a return to a hardline stance in the 27-year-old fight against the PKK and an end to clandestine talks between the state and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. After a clear victory in June’s parliamentary election, Erdoğan vowed to press ahead with reforms addressing the 12-million-strong Kurdish minority’s grievances. A wave of PKK attacks and the state’s response has brought an abrupt change of tone and heightened prospects of intensified conflict.
As well as continuing the air assaults, the armed forces could launch a ground incursion against militants in northern Iraq as they have in the past. Further legal action could also be taken against Kurdish politicians currently boycotting parliament and accused of close links to the PKK. Some commentators backed the stronger response, but there were also concerns about the consequences. The terrorists could in turn strike back by staging urban attacks. The General Staff said in a statement that all planes returned safely to their bases on Wednesday. It also said operations would continue until the PKK was “rendered ineffective.”
Two soldiers killed in Siirt
As Turkey carries out military strikes against PKK hideouts in northern Iraq, two soldiers were killed while four others were injured after the PKK attacked a gendarmerie post in the southeastern province of Siirt late on Thursday.
The wounded soldiers were taken to Siirt State Hospital for treatment.
In addition, in the Pervari district of Siirt, two civilians were injured after PKK members attacked several public buildings, the police department and gendarmerie buildings with rockets and machine guns. İsmail Erik (15) was seriously injured and Mehmet Akbulut (12) was only slightly wounded. The injured were taken to Siirt State Hospital for medical treatment.
A large-scale operation was launched in the area after the attack. As a result of a skirmish between security forces and the terrorist organization, two PKK members were killed, the private Cihan news agency reported. One other PKK terrorist was killed in Tunceli in a separate conflict with the security forces.
One dead as military helicopter crashes
One Turkish officer was killed and another was injured in a military helicopter crash in the southeastern province of Malatya on Thursday. A military helicopter went down in Malatya on Thursday due to technical problems, the Anatolia news agency reported. Capt. Erhan Kındız was critically injured in the accident and was hospitalized at İnönü Univeristy’s Turgut Özal Medical Center, but doctors were unable to save him. The other injured officer, Capt. Kamuran Sönmezay, who is receiving treatment at the same hospital, remains in critical condition. İstanbul Today’s Zaman