Top commander says Turkey ‘actually waging war’ since July
AA PhotoThe Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have been “actually waging a war” for the last few months, a top commander has said, referring to military operations launched against bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
Air Forces Commander Gen. Abidin Ünal referred to air strikes against PKK camps, “ongoing since July 23,” during a speech at a ceremony for the 64th anniversary of the foundation of the Air Force Academy.
“Today, the Turkish Air Forces are actually waging a war. More than just a medium-scale war, it is fighting on two fronts,” Ünal said late on Oct. 5.
After months of wavering and following a suicide bombing in the town of Suruç on the Syrian border on July 20, which was blamed on fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) - an arch-foe of the PKK and its U.S.-backed Syrian affiliate, Turkey agreed on July 23 to partner with the United States in launching joint air strikes against fighters of ISIL in Syria and Iraq. The military operations against ISIL in Syria and the PKK in Iraq on July 23 and 24, in retaliation to their attacks in Turkey on July 20, 22 and 23, were accompanied by simultaneous police raids in Turkey where hundreds of people with suspected links to ISIL, the PKK and the armed leftist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) were taken into custody.
“In sum, we have used over 2,000 modern ammunitions and have stuck over 1,200 targets. I want to emphasize that our intelligence units, through reconnaissance, and our analysts have designated those 1,200 to 1,500 targets,” Ünal said, praising the performance of the Turkish Air Forces.
“None of those over 2,000 strikes were responded to,” he said. “So we are talking about a very integrated system of pilots, commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers.”
Soon after pounding ISIL positions in Syria, Ankara quickly turned its attention to strike the PKK in northern Iraq. More than 120 members of the security forces and hundreds of militants have been killed since July, leaving a three-year-old peace process in tatters and raising concern about the security of the snap parliamentary election set for Nov. 1.