Turkish security forces to hold large operations against PKK during winter: Minister
TRABZONThe Turkish security forces will hold large-scale operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the upcoming winter, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said, adding that “we will never stop moving” in the months to come.
“We have two perspectives from now on, one concerns the period until winter and the other is the winter itself. We won’t stop moving just like we didn’t last year, it’s simple and clear. We will be carrying out operations throughout the winter,” Soylu said after attending an event to celebrate Eid al-Adha in the Black Sea province of Trabzon on Sept. 2, adding that “people should be relaxed about terror” because a total struggle against the PKK is ongoing with all security units, including police, gendarmerie and village guards.
“The patrols that are carried out with unmanned drones pose a serious obstacle for the terrorist organization to travel in groups. They dispersed into groups of two, three or four. We also spread to the ground very well. Our citizens should expect a much higher level of struggle against terror in September, October and November. It’s simple and clear that they [PKK militants] will try to stage attacks in return. That’s why we are keeping track of the evaluations they make among themselves,” he said.
Later on the same day, Soylu visited the grave of the 15-year-old Eren Bülbül, who was killed by the PKK during clashes between the group and security forces in Trabzon’s Maçka district on Aug. 11.
Accompanied by his wife Hamdiye Soylu and Gendarmerie General Commander Gen. Arif Çetin, the minister visited Bülbül’s family, lasting for about half an hour, and talked to Bülbül’s brothers, Olcay and Arif Bülbül.
The death of Eren Bülbül and Gendarmerie Sergeant Ferhat Gedik, 41, also killed in the same clashes, sparked massive outrage in Turkey and authorities, with the security forces vowing to apprehend the PKK militants responsible for the attack.
A large-scale security operation named “Eren Bülbül,” launched right after the attack, has been ongoing.
In addition to the high number of police and gendarmerie officers participating in the operation, authorities sent reinforcements from Ankara to step up the search. Two elite units from the gendarmerie were sent to the region to apprehend the militants as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the security forces determined radio conversations between three PKK militants and expanded the search toward Doğankent-Kürtün region close to the neighboring province of Gümüşhane and 120 kilometers away from Maçka.
The search was intensified in the area with aerial support from helicopters.
In addition, the security forces are aiming the give the news of catching PKK militants to Soylu and Çetin before the end of Eid al-Adha.
The Gendarmerie General Command, meanwhile, has shared the footage of the operation on social media. The footage shows security forces surveilling the mountainous area under difficult circumstances.
Also in Maçka, Çetin examined the operational details and vowed that the militants will be caught.
“Our Eren was martyred. The traitors who did this will be caught sooner or later. With the strength given to us by our people, what’s necessary is being done. Our soldiers are looking for them [militants] everywhere,” Çetin said, daily Milliyet reported on Sept. 3.
Elsewhere, a total of 176 PKK militants were killed throughout August in the operations carried out inside and outside the country, according to data gathered by the state-run Anadolu Agency, which added that 13 security personnel were killed in the same time period.
The agency said six civilians, including students, village heads and workers, were killed and a child was wounded in the PKK attacks.
According to the data, some 548 suspects were detained, of whom 138 were arrested, in simultaneous operations carried out in many provinces.
Plenty of weapons and ammunition were also confiscated in the operations, including rifles, rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons and pistols.
In addition, 2,920 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, 50 hand grenades, as well as thousands of ammunition were seized.
A total of 35 shelters of the outlawed group were also destroyed.