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Turkey intensifies operations in Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Turkey intensifies operations in Kurdistan, northern Iraq

2019/11/08 | 07:00

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Turkish military carried out several operations over the week, using warplanes, drones, and artillery shelling in a continued campaign against the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

The PKK has been engaged in a decades-long insurgency against Ankara over Kurdish rights and self-rule since the 1980s, in a conflict that has resulted in the death of over 40,000 people on both sides. Headquartered in the Kurdistan Region’s Qandil Mountains, the group is designated as a “terrorist organization” by Turkey, the EU, and the US.

Turkish bombing of Qandil and the sprawling border areas has become commonplace since the peace process between the organization and Ankara collapsed in 2015. In the past year, Turkey has carried out military operations against PKK fighters based in the region with continued regularity, crossing into the region up to 20 kilometers deep in some areas to target the guerilla group.

Over the past five days, starting Monday, the Turkish military seems to have carried out at least five separate operations in the Kurdistan Region and other areas in northern Iraq, while reporting on three of them.

The defense ministry says all the attacks on alleged PKK positions are part of Operation Claw, which began in May. A third phase of this purported anti-PKK campaign started in late August, targeting members of the Kurdish group based close to the border in Duhok Province.

In an “air-supported operation” in the Zab region close to the Turkish border, Ankara “neutralized” two alleged PKK members, the defense ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The area is about 70 kilometers northeast of the city of Duhok.

In another statement on Tuesday, Turkish forces “neutralized” two more alleged PKK fighters in the Sinat-Haftanin, or Batifa subdistrict, which is also near the border and to the east of the Zab region.

On that same day, the ministry reported another operation that “neutralized” five more PKK members in the Avashin subdistrict of Duhok, directly to the east of Zab. No other details were posted.

While the Turkish ministry is yet to report on this incident, their artillery began shelling the outskirts of villages in the Zakho district of Duhok. Such attacks have terrorized local populations, leading to many villages being evacuated as civilians continue getting caught in the attacks.

A separate incident took place on Monday in the disputed Sinjar (Shingal) district, which is a base for local fighters who took up arms to protect the Yezidi ethnoreligious minority after they faced atrocities at the hands of the so-called Islamic State, which overran the Shingal area in 2014.

Read More: Turkish jets target Yezidi militias in Sinjar, injure 2: sources

The Yezidi, or Ezidi, fighters are known as the Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) and are often associated with the PKK.

While reports varied on the number of casualties, local sources confirmed at least two YBS fighters had been injured during the operation in which Turkey reportedly used drones.

In tandem with these operations, Turkey and its Syrian militant proxies are currently leading an incursion into parts of northeastern Syria, where the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), also a PKK affiliate, are based.

The YPG lead the ethnically diverse Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who were the main ground troops that ended the territorial claims of the Islamic State in Syria in March 2019 with the aid of the international anti-ISIS coalition.

Editing by Nadia Riva







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