Turkey Sends Troops & Hits 500 Kurdish Militant Targets in Iraq
Turkey stationed special forces in northern Iraq on Wednesday in action against Kurdish rebels upheld by air and artillery support as the dispute proceeds to intensify.
Turkish forces have hit more than 500 Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq as part of an operation in the region against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.
Turkish warplanes struck PKK targets in various regions of northern Iraq on Sunday and Tuesday in two separate raids, which Ankara said were in response to an increase in militant attacks on Turkish army bases.
Turkey launched the “Claw-Tiger Operation” on Tuesday in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region.
A Defence Ministry statement said Turkish F-16 jets, drones and howitzers had hit and destroyed more than 500 PKK targets in 36 hours.
“The Claw-Tiger Operation is going very well. God willing, by continuing with the same seriousness and determination, we will conclude the operation with success,” the statement cited Defence Minister Hulusi Akar as saying.
“Our brave commandos are in Haftanin,” the ministry declared, calling the new operation “Claw-Tiger”. “Our troops – who are backed by warfare helicopters and drones – have been conveyed by our air force.”
The defence ministry defended launching the operation due to “fresh upsurge in assaults on Turkish police stations and army camps” near the Iraqi border.
There was no instant response from the PKK or Baghdad and northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish zone.
The move is possible to grow counteraction between Ankara and Baghdad, which on Tuesday asked the Turkish ambassador to oppose Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish rebel sites in northern Iraq this week.
Turkey regularly attacks PKK militants, both in its mainly Kurdish southeast and in northern Iraq, where the group is based. It has also warned in recent years of a potential ground offensive against PKK bases in Iraq’s Qandil mountains.
“Turkey maintains its action against rebels using the claims based on international rules and regulations,” declared Omer Celik, the deputy chairman of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governing party. “It is our most fundamental liberty and commitment to combat terrorists who invade our frontiers, civilians, and security forces.”
The PKK, named as a “terrorist” group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, held up arms upon the Turkish state in 1984 aiming to build an independent Kurdish state. More than 40,000 people have died in the dispute, centred in southeast Turkey.
The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday, Turkish and Iranian military interventions in Iraq violated Iraqi sovereignty. The UAE and Ankara have strained ties, including over the Libyan crisis where the two countries back opposing sides.