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Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria continue to bleed Turkey. Ankara is currently ramping up its efforts to deal with the threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and its affiliate the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern and northeastern Syria.
In the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Operation Claw-Lock, which was launched by the Turkey on April 17, is still ongoing. As of May 5, the Turkish military has carried out dozens of raids and airstrikes on PKK remnants in the areas of Metina, Zap and Avashin Basyan.
The Turkish Ministry of National Defense claims that 63 members of the PKK have been killed, wounded or captured as of May 2.
Ankara acknowledged that eleven service members have been killed since the start of the operation. However, the PKK, whose fighters have been showing fierce resistance, claims that up to 218 Turkish officers and soldiers were killed in hostilities.
Operation Claw-Lock is the most recent in a series of offensives Turkey has carried out since 2019 against what it calls “terrorist organizations” in northern Iraq. The Turkish operation was condemned by all sides in Iraq, including pro-Iranian armed factions. Despite the condemnation and the rising cost, Ankara appears to be determined to go on with the operation.
Meanwhile in northern and northeastern Syria, Turkey continues to fight the YPG, the core of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and its affiliate the Afrin Liberation Unit (ALF).
On April 22, a Turkish police officer was killed when the ALF targeted a Turkish military vehicle near the town of Marea in the northern countryside of Aleppo with anti-tank guided missiles. Several other service members were reportedly wounded.
On May 3, the ALF revealed that it had carried out a series of attacks against Turkish-backed militants between April 23 and 30. The Kurdish guerilla group claimed that 14 militants were killed and two others were wounded as a result of the attacks.
On May 4, two attacks attributed to the YPG and the ALF targeted Turkish forces in the area of Afrin in the northern countryside of Aleppo. Indirect fire hit a Turkish position in the outskirts of the town of Kaljibrin. Later, an attack with an ATGM targeted a Turkish military vehicle near the town of Kimar. As a result a Turkish officer was killed.
The Turkish military and its proxies’ response to the recent attacks by Kurdish forces was shy. Between April 22 and May 4, a series of intense artillery strikes targeted SDF-held areas in northern and northeastern Syria. G_3(A) The Turkish Ministry of National Defense alleged that dozens of Kurdish militants were “neutralized”. However, Syrian sources reported no real losses.
The recent attacks by Kurdish forces may be an attempt to deter Ankara, who has been reportedly preparing to launch a new large-scale military operation in Syria for nearly a year now.
Turkey’s struggle against Kurdish guerilla groups in Iraq and Syria will not likely end any time soon. Ankara attempts to take matters into its own hands will not succeed. Without real cooperation with the legitimate governments of Iraq and Syria, Turkey will continue to deal with the threat of Kurdish forces.