Turkey hails capture of Kurdish separatist base after series of deadly strikes on PKK
Turkish forces have captured a major base belonging to Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, according to Turkey’s defence ministry.
Twelve Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members, who are always referred to as “terrorists” in Turkey’s largely state-controlled media, were killed, wounded or captured, the ministry tweeted.
Operation Claw-Lightning took place in Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan regions close to the Turkish border, near where three Turkish soldiers were killed in August.
Turkish paratroopers and commandos airdropped from Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters after the air strikes, according to Ankara.
The ministry said the operation targeted the separatist group’s eastern headquarters in a “powerful blow” against the PKK.
Ankara did not say when the operation happened.
The PKK, which is also listed as a terrorist organisation by the US and EU, has been fighting for Kurdish rights since 1984. The organisation is never quoted in the Turkish media.
Turkey began its current air and ground campaign against the Kurds in northern Iraq in April in what it said was a bid to stop the PKK from being able to launch cross-border attacks in Turkey.
Turkey’s armed forces killed or captured 95 “terrorists” in September, according to deputy interior minister Ismail Catakli.
Between April 15 and October 1, 10,850 operations were conducted and more than 125 so-called terrorists were killed or captured, more than 400 shelters were destroyed and arms and ammunition were seized, he said.
Turkey has long tested out its world-leading drone technology on Kurdish separatists.
Catakli claimed there are now fewer than 189 “terrorists” operating in Turkey.
In September, 11,716 rural and 1,245 urban operations were conducted in Turkey, according to Catakli. Five members on the Interior Ministry’s wanted list were successfully targeted, the deputy minister said.
Catakli said 26 “terrorists” were killed and 54 captured, one was captured while injured and 14 surrendered. They included 69 PKK members, 24 from Isis and two “left-wing terror group” members.
A PKK leader was reportedly killed in late September in the Qandil region of northern Iraq in an operation by Turkey’s intelligence and army.
Mehmet Hatip Ariturk, also known as Delil Siirt, led the PKK in the Kirkuk region in Iraq, according to the Turkish media.
Turkey accused Ariturk of plotting attacks in Afrin, northern Syria, in 2015 and importing missiles and heavy weaponry to Kirkuk in 2016 that were used against Turkey.
Turkish security sources said he led the PKK’s intelligence operations.
The PKK is being heavily targeted by Turkey’s armed forces. Picture credit: Flickr