Anti-terror ops speed up as new terror tunnels found

Anti-terror ops speed up as new terror tunnels found

Anti-terror ops speed up as new terror tunnels found

DHA Photo

The governor of the southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakır has said nearly all areas that have been under curfew for months in the Sur district have been cleared of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.

“As of today, 98 percent of the problematic areas in our six neighborhoods of the Sur district has been cleared,” said Hüseyin Aksoy at a press conference in Diyarbakır on March 1.

“Seven trenches have been removed, 271 improvised explosive devices have been deactivated, and 204 barricades have been removed so far,” Aksoy said.

Parts of Sur have been under a blanket curfew since Nov. 28, 2015, only occasionally lifted for short windows of time. The curfew is reported to still be in place in six neighborhoods, namely Cevatpaşa, Fatihpaşa, Dabanoğlu, Hasırlı, Cemal Yılmaz and Savaş.

Aksoy stressed that the curfew was imposed to prevent civilian casualties during counterterrorism operations that the Turkish military has conducted against militants from outlawed organizations. He underscored that a large number of civilians have been evacuated from the clash zones in Sur.

“A large number of citizens have been evacuated. Six civilians who were thought to need evacuating were taken outside [of Sur] on Feb. 19 ... Also, if there are any terrorists willing to leave [Sur], their lives are under the assurance of the state,” Aksoy said.

Turkey has recently stepped up efforts to fight militancy in the southeast, specifically with ground operations targeting the PKK. Local governors have imposed curfews in several towns in the country’s east and southeast to remove militants from the area. 

A round-the-clock curfew went into effect in downtown İdil and the district’s Dirsekli village starting from 11 p.m. on Feb. 15, in the southeastern province of Şırnak. 

The state-run Anadolu Agency reported on March 1 that security forces have conducted searches on around 2,300 homes in İdil as part of counterterrorism operations.

Security forces on March 1 found a tunnel that PKK militants built using keystones in İdil. The 10-meter-long tunnel was found as built with keystones in İdil’s Yeni Mahalle neighborhood and it was reportedly used as a passage between 12 homes in the town.

The first sign that İdil would soon be the site of military operations came when the Education Ministry invited around 1,200 teachers working in the district to come to a seminar in Istanbul via text message.