Ankara has stepped up its cross-border campaign in Iraq against the militias, after accusing them of a deadly bombing in Istanbul
Turkish forces “neutralized” three members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq, the Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday. Ankara considers the PKK a terrorist organization, and has escalated its military operation against the group following a bombing in Istanbul last month that killed six people.
“Three PKK terrorists were neutralized in the Gara region in northern Iraq,” the ministry stated on Twitter, adding “our operations will continue until the last terrorist is neutralized.”
The tweet included a video of a Turkish Bayraktar attack drone releasing a bomb, although it is unclear if such munitions were used to fight the alleged terrorists. Türkiye uses the term ‘neutralized’ regardless of whether the fighters were killed or captured.
Terörü bitirmekte, milletimizi bu beladan kurtarmakta kararlıyız!Irak’ın kuzeyindeki Gara bölgesinde 3 PKK’lı terörist etkisiz hâle getirildi.En son terörist etkisiz hâle getirilinceye kadar operasyonlarımız devam edecek.#MSBpic.twitter.com/M5xcgUqsKE
— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) December 27, 2022
The strike in Iraq came a day after a Turkish soldier was killed in an attack on a military base, according to an earlier report by the Turkish Defense Ministry.
Türkiye launched a massive air operation against the PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG, in late November, after a bomb attack killed six people in Istanbul and injured more than 80 others. Ankara blamed the attack on “PKK/YPG terrorists” and carried out airstrikes in northern Iraq and Syria in response, naming its offensive ‘Operation Claw Sword’.
“Terrorists’ shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, and warehouses were successfully destroyed” in the airstrikes, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said afterwards. His ministry later stated that 89 targets had been hit, while the Kurdish authorities said that two villages populated by civilians were destroyed.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the airstrikes were “just the beginning,” and that a ground offensive would follow.
Both the PKK and YPG deny any involvement in the Istanbul bombing.
Türkiye has been waging low-intensity warfare against Kurdish militias along its Syrian and Iraqi borders for four decades, in a back-and-forth campaign that has claimed the lives of nearly 40,000 people in Türkiye.
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