619 PKK militants killed in 59 days of Cizre clashes
ŞIRNAK / DİYARBAKIR
AA PhotoAs the 59-day military operation against outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in Cizre came to an end, the General Staff announced on Feb. 12 that a total of 619 militants were killed in the town, located in the southeastern province of Şırnak.
“Control of Şırnak’s Cizre district has been completely taken, with 16 separatist terror organization members killed [on Feb. 11],” said the army in an official statement.
However, the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has raised questions over the operations, vowing to “hold [violations] to account within the framework of law.”
The bodies of 18 militants were taken from Cizre to Şanlıurfa province on Feb. 12, as armored military vehicles took measures around the morgue against any protests or attacks.
Machine guns, pistols, rockets, grenades, ammunition, and other equipment were seized in the recent operations, the military stated.
After the end of operations that were first launched on Dec. 14, 2015, a policeman read a prayer from police radio for security members recently killed during the clashes in Cizre, reading out the names of 29 fallen soldiers and policemen.
Officials claimed that published photos of destroyed guns and ammunition came from a basement where local activists said wounded civilians were awaiting help.
The remains of handmade bombs, mostly developed from LPG tanks used within homes, were visible on the streets, while mosques and schools used as bases by militants during clashes were also badly damaged.
A group of locals performed their Friday prayers outside severely damaged mosques.
Meanwhile, Anadolu Agency reported that one soldier, identified only by the initials İ.A., had miraculously survived an attack and was not even wounded after two gunshots to his body. One of the bullets hit a spare magazine on his belt while the other one hit the belt of his gun on his neck.
Despite his survival, İ.A. said he was saddened because one of his colleagues had died in the clash, in which five militants were also killed.
HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş questioned the legality of the operations, speaking on the sidelines of a trade union meeting in Ankara.
“We don’t know how many people were killed in Cizre over the past 20 days,” Demirtaş told reporters.
“We do not have an exact number because the process is unhealthy, it is not lawful. In addition, the families [of those killed] are facing emotional torture. This is a war crime situation,” he said.
“If the operations are over, why are these houses still under fire?” asked HDP Şırnak deputy Faysal Sarıyıldız. “Are you spoiling the evidence?”
He accused the security forces of “destroying the effects of the damage by the operational units.”
Elsewhere, the curfew and the clashes in Diyarbakır’s central Sur district continued for a 73rd day, as four soldiers were wounded early in the morning on Feb. 12.
The General Staff said five more PKK militants were killed in Sur as the number rose to 186.
The military said it spotted three tunnels used by PKK militants to enter the district.