Turkish military seizes major PKK arms stash in eastern, southeastern provinces
Turkish security forces seized a major arms stash belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the country’s eastern and southeastern provinces over the past week from June 8 to 15, the Turkish military stated on June 16.
According to a statement from the Turkish General Staff, security forces spotted some 52 shelters, caves and storage areas used by PKK militants and destroyed them, in operations conducted in the provinces of Şırnak, Hakkari, Diyarbakır, Bingöl, Elazığ, Mardin and Siirt.
Weapons including rifles, handguns, hand grenades, machine guns and rocket launchers were seized during the operations, the statement said, adding that around 750 kilograms (1,653 pounds) of ammonium nitrate, gas cylinders, mines and a large amount of ammunition as well as cables and fuses - possibly used in bomb-making - were also captured.
The security forces have also killed 60 PKK militants during operations over the past week, the military stated, adding that seven soldiers were killed and another 19 were injured.
“The PKK, which has received one of its largest blows of the last few years and lost an important number of its members, been stuck in a difficult situation with loss especially from its leader cadre, which has not been able to replace these losses as there is no new participation in the group, has gotten into a scrape in the last few months,” the statement said.
The military said it also targeted the PKK’s illegal drug trafficking transaction, which is believed to be the main financial source for the group. Contraband confiscated over the week included 459,953 pieces of hemp roots, 113 kilograms (249 pounds) of drugs, 1,607 kilograms of powder cannabis, as well as 1,291 kilograms of powder hashish and 92,110 packages of smuggled cigarettes, it added.
It also said 5,617 illegal migrants were stopped at Turkey’s borders.
Military operation in Syria’s north
The military also mentioned the cross-border operation in Syria’s north in its statement, saying that it secured an area of 90 square kilometers covering 243 residential districts in the Syrian cities of Jarablus and Azez.
The Turkish security forces reportedly continued to clear off mines and explosives off the Al-Bab city center as well as the town of Qabasin and the village of Bzaah, which it took control of together with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in February from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The military also said it took precautions against the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), to stop these groups from crossing the east of Afrin and the west of Manbij.
The military emphasized that it will continue its fight against the PYD, YPG, PKK and ISIL until all their members are “neutralized,” stating that the groups targeted “Turkey’s national unity and indivisible integrity.”
Authorities use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply the militants in question were either killed, wounded or captured.