Over 500 members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have been ‘neutralized’ by Turkish forces in northern Iraq since the start of 2018, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said on June 8 following a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Defense Ministers’ session.
“We are doing what is necessary to totally eradicate [enemies], and we will do it till the end,” Canikli said commenting on Turkey’s operations against Kurdish armed groups in southern Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq.
The defense minister added that the Turkish state is still affected by security threats from northern Iraq, which are posed by the PKK.
The PKK is a Kurdish separatist group, which is involved in a long-standing militancy against the Turkish government. It de-facto seeks to establish an independent Kurdish state in southern Turkey and, if it’s possible, to include territories of northern Syria and Iraq into it.
The Turkish Air Force has been carrying out airstrikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq since July 2015. In late 2017 and early 2018, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) have expanded their operations against the PKK in the area employing units of the Special Operations Forces.
The anti-PKK operation in northern Iraq goes along the battle against the group inside Turkey. On June 9, the Turkish military announced that at least 14 PKK terrorists had been “neutralized” in the southeastern province of Sirnak. The PKK members were allegedly targeted by an airstrike. Two PKK members were also “neutralized” in the southeastern province of Hakkari. On June 8, a Turkish police officer was killed during clashes with PKK members in the Bestler-Mt. Kaval region.
At the same time, the Turkish leadership is publicly considering to expand its ground military actions against the PKK in northern Iraq by advancing on Qandil Mountains.
Ankara sees southern Turkey, northern Iraq and northern Syria as a united battleground against the PKK and other Kurdish armed groups. MORE ABOUT RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN SYRIA