Jets destroy PKK depots in N Iraq
Turkish jets destroyed weapon pits, shelters and munition depots used by PKK militants in the Avasin-Basyan and Metina regions of northern Iraq as part of the Operation Claw against the illegal group, the National Defense Ministry said on May 30.
The National Defense Ministry also updated the total number of “neutralized” militants during the ongoing operation in the region.
Four more PKK militants were “neutralized” in the operation, bringing the total number to 19, it said.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply that the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
“Four more PKK terrorists have been neutralized as part of ongoing Operation Claw in Hakurk region of northern Iraq,” it tweeted.
“Therefore, the number of terrorists neutralized so far as part of the operation has risen to 19,” it added.
The ministry also said two Turkish soldiers died May 29 from wounds sustained in a bomb blast during the operation.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The illegal group has its headquarters in the Qandil Mountains – a mountainous area of northern Iraq near the Iraq-Iran border.
The presence of PKK elements in the area has been posing a national security threat to Ankara for decades with frequent attacks in southeastern Turkey.
The latest military offensive is aimed at destroying the caves and shelters used by PKK militants in the mountainous region.
The Operation Claw against the PKK started on May 27 with artillery shelling and continued with air strikes and commando operations, officials said.
On May 29, Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reiterated the country’s deter-mination to abolish terrorist threats at its borders. “The aim of ‘Operation Claw’ is the complete elimination of the current terrorist threat against our country and borders,” said Akar.