Turkey “neutralized” two of its most wanted PKK members in anti-PKK raids.
On August 15th, Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) Sinjar province head, Ismail Ozden was “neutralized” by a Turkish Army intelligence operation in Northern Iraq. This was announced by the Turkish General Staff.
Turkish Army said on Twitter that PKK/KCK’s senior figure of Sinjar town, Ismail Ozden — codenamed Mam Zeki Sengali — was “neutralized” in a joint operation by Turkish Armed Forces and intelligence in Sinjar.
As reported by Anadolu Agency, he was arrested in Germany for “being a PKK member” and “attacking workplaces of Turkish people” in 1996 and was subsequently released in 1998. In 2018 he started leading the “PKK terror activities” in Sinjar.
He was the first PKK member in Turkey’s red-category for “most wanted terrorists” “neutralized” by Turkey in an operation abroad.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said August 14th that Ankara and Baghdad have reached an agreement on cooperation in combating militants from the PKK.
On August 12th, another red-category PKK member was “neutralized” by Turkish Security Forces. The Turkish Interior Ministry announced that Ibrahim Coban was “neutralized” during a “counterterrorism operation” in the Eastern Turkish province Tunceli. Ibrahim Coban, codenamed Atakan Mahir, was a PKK member included in the Turkish Interior Ministry’s red category of wanted PKK members, the statement included.
In the wanted list there are five categories, red being the most wanted, followed by blue, green, orange and grey.
According to Anadolu Agency, Turkey’s state-run news agency, “neutralized” in the statements of authorities means the targets in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
As reported by Anadolu Agency, Turkish security forces have dealt a heavy blow to the The People’s Protection Units (YPG)/PKK members in recent months in operations that target the most wanted.
In a statement on August 13th, Turkish Ministry of Interior said that the Turkish Security Forces have carried out 2,218 ground and air operations between August 6th and 13th. The operations “neutralized” 47 PKK members. The announcement said that 35 of them were killed, 3 were captured and 9 surrendered to authorities.
During the operations, 128 people were arrested for allegedly assisting the PKK, and 39 over suspected links with the Daesh organization.
Also, another 312 people were arrested over the period for suspected links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the July 2016 defeated coup, which martyred 251 people and injured nearly 2,200.
Four more were arrested for links to “leftist terrorist groups,” according to the statement.
Turkish Security Forces, as cited by the Anadolu Agency, also destroyed three PKK shelters, several caves, and seven improvised explosives during operations in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Tunceli, Hakkari, and Bitlis. Furthermore, 31 hand grenades, 39 various weapons and 1,329 rounds of ammunition were also seized. A further 483 suspects for crimes related to “terrorism” were also arrested during the operations, among various other suspects for human-trafficking, drug-dealing etc.
Tensions between Ankara and the Kurdish escalated back in July 2015 when a ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK collapsed after a series of attacks, allegedly carried out by PKK members. Turkish Security forces take part in continuous anti-PKK raids across the country and Northern Iraq.
Ankara’s fight with the PKK has been on-going since the early 1980s. The PKK is de-facto seeking to establish an independent Kurdish state within the territory of southern Turkey and, if this is possible, northern Iraq and northern Syria. The Kurdish is the largest ethnic minority in the country.