PKK slaughtered 13 Turkish citizens in N Iraq, says Defense Minister Akar
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has successfully completed its four-day Operation Claw-Eagle 2 and cleared Gara region of Northern Iraq of PKK elements, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Feb. 14, adding that PKK terrorists killed 13 unarmed Turkish citizens that they were held hostage since 2015.
“A very special and crucial operation has been conducted. It was really important as it has taken place on a vast and very difficult terrain under difficult weather conditions. With the operation, all the [terror] elements that have been settled in this area and were preparing to attack our borders, security forces and people have almost been eliminated,” Akar said, while briefing the results of the operation early Feb. 14 at a command center on the Turkish-Iraqi border.
He was accompanied by Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler, Land Forces Commander Gen. Ümit Dündar, Air Forces Commander Gen. Hasan Küçükakyüz, as well as Navy Forces Commander Adm. Adnan Özbal, and other senior military officials.
Operation Claw-Eagle 2 was launched on Feb. 10 with the participation of air and land forces in a bid to prevent the PKK from using the mountainous Gara region in Northern Iraq as a new launching pad for its attacks against Turkey.
More PKK elements were recently deployed to the area as they had to leave their headquarters in Northern Iraq as a result of an intensive military operation of the TSK in Haftanin, Hakurk and other provinces.
Following intensive aerial attacks that successfully hit more than 50 targets, including the regional headquarters of the PKK, the land operation has begun and three soldiers were killed and three others were wounded on the first day, Akar said.
“Throughout the operation 48 terrorists, three of whom were senior leaders, were caught dead. Two terrorists were caught alive,” he said, stressing that the operation inflicted a heavy blow on the PKK’s presence and the region has been taken under control.
PKK kept 13 citizens in cave
Akar also said one of the objectives of the operation was to confirm an intelligence that the PKK was holding 13 Turkish citizens that it kidnapped in 2015 in Gara. The bodies of these citizens were found in a cave, which has been taken under control after heavy clashes, the defense minister said, adding, “It has been established that one of our innocent and unarmed citizens were shot in the shoulder, and the remaining 12 were shot in the head. They were killed in a cave that the Turkish forces arrived at to carry out a search. The PKK’s treacherous and murderous face has thus been revealed yet again.”
According to the testimony of a terrorist which was caught alive during the operation, it has been understood that 13 citizens were killed by the ringleader of the PKK responsible of that particular cave. “In the meantime, all the terrorists who have killed our citizens in this cave were neutralized,” Akar stated.
Operations will continue
For his part, Güler informed that the operation took place in a very vast area that is 75 kilometers wide and 25 kilometers deep in Northern Iraq with plans to hit all the targets of the PKK.
“We have reached this cave on the third day of the operation,” he said. Due to the challenging location of the cave the land troops were used to attack it.
“A very heavy blow was dealt. The terror organization will no longer feel itself comfortable in this region, as it was yesterday. We’ll let them live this every day,” he added, operations to eliminate the PKK will continue without any stop.
Turkey condemns killing of 13 citizens
The corpses of the killed citizens were brought to the eastern province of Malatya where they will be handed to their families after the completion of forensic studies.
“We will continue our struggle within and outside borders until we eradicate terrorism,” Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter, while expressing his condolences over the murdered citizens. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and political party leaders, including main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, condemned the PKK and offered condolences to the families of those killed and the entire nation.
“The PKK executes 13 civilian captives in a cave in Gara, Iraq. It attacks Turkish and Iraqi security forces and civilians. It continues its terrorist attacks in northern Syria,” said Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın on Twitter.
“The world is silent. This silence is a shameful act of complicity. But we will not remain silent,” he stated.
Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also condemned the killings, saying, “The groups that attempt to make the PKK seem legitimate in Turkey, Syria and Iraq are collaborators of that horde of murderers. The blood of our martyrs is also on the hands of those who refrain from even condemning the terrorist organization PKK, and those who omit that treacherous organization’s name in their statements in an attempt to whitewash them.”