The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) launched an offensive after PKK raids near the Turkey-Iraq border killed 24 Turkish soldiers in October. When the offensive ended, some 270 PKK terrorists had been killed. The military said last month that 22 battalions, or about 10,000 soldiers, took part in the offensive, but did not say how many of them were in southern Turkey and how many in northern Iraq.
The decision to send a special ops unit to northern Iraq came a few weeks after Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin’s written statement to the governors of Turkey’s 81 provinces, stating that these teams would take part in counterterrorism operations when necessary. Previously, these teams were not allowed to participate in operations carried out in rural areas due to a General Staff decision made after the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern coup.
This special ops unit includes 17 officers who are trained in carrying out counterterrorism operations in rural areas. They have been trained to map out an area, carry out helicopter reconnaissance missions, defuse bombs and hand grenades, deal with sniper fire and conduct surprise attacks.
The unit’s role will be to target such PKK leaders as the infamous Murat Karayılan, Fehman Hüseyin, who is believed to have been the mastermind behind the latest terrorist attacks against the Turkish Army, police and civilians, and others, including Duran Kalkan, Kadri Çelik and Sabri Ok.
A female terrorist captured with explosives in Antalya’s Döşemealtı district in October told police that she had received orders for the bombing she was to carry out directly from Syrian terrorist Fehman Hüseyin. The terrorist told police that she had been given her orders by Fehman Hüseyin in person, and said this is the method the terrorist organization always uses. “For all bombing plans, Fehman always has a word with the bombers in person. A bomber does not know the identity of the other bombers he or she is working with,” the female terrorist said.
A PKK suicide bomber blew herself up last week in Bingöl, killing herself and two other people while injuring 21. Officials stated that Fehman Hüseyin was behind this attack. Investigators say a major catastrophe may have been avoided thanks to a woman identified as Hatice Belgin, who threw herself onto the suicide bomber in order to protect her children. Belgin may have saved the lives of dozens of people, because her reaction is believed to have minimized the impact of the bomb.