Turkey hitting PKK targets ‘to prevent attacks during referendum process’
Uğur Ergan – ANKARA
AA photoTurkey has been carrying out air strikes against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq in order to stop militants from infiltrating into Turkey when the weather conditions improve and as a part of security measures for the upcoming referendum on shifting Turkey to an executive presidency.
Security forces acted after intelligence sources and drones spotted movement around the Zap region in northern Iraq, determining that the militants were coming down from the Kandil Mountains, where the PKK’s main headquarters and training camps are based, to the Avaşin-Basyan, Hakurk and Haftanin regions.
It was also revealed that the outlawed group was trying to smuggle weapons and ammunition into Turkey and there were passages through Kobane in northern Syria.
After it was seen that the PKK militants were gathering to infiltrate into Turkey from the Dağlıca district of the southeastern province of Hakkari, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) launched an operation against the PKK.
Some 34 PKK militants were “neutralized” in two separate air strikes carried out on Feb. 20, while on Feb. 21 a total of 10 targets including caves and shelters belonging to the group were destroyed in the same region.
Authorities use the word “neutralized” to refer to militants who are killed, wounded or captured.
In addition, 84 battalions mostly consisting of commandos in Turkey’s east and southeast conducted operations against PKK militants who were preparing to stage attacks. With these operations, the PKK’s bomb attack plans in the centers of the provinces were prevented.
Meanwhile, some 15 PKK militants were “neutralized” in air strikes carried out in Hakkari and Zap on Feb. 21. According to the TSK, two militants were “neutralized” in the rural Çukurca district of Hakkari and an unknown number of militants were wounded.
As a result of intelligence efforts in Çukurca, it was determined that there were PKK militants in Para Tepe, Kumru Tepe, Çukur Tepe and Hubi Tepe, and their targets were hit with mortars.
Elsewhere, a hand-made explosive mechanism that was hidden by PKK militants in the Artuklu district of the southeastern province of Mardin was detonated by the security forces. The place where the bomb was hidden was some 400 meters away from a hotel, where a meeting was going to be held under the leadership of Deputy Interior Minister Sebahattin Öztürk.
An operation was launched to apprehend the militants involved in the incident.
Also in Mardin, curfews were imposed in two neighborhoods in the Nusaybin district, in the Kuyular and Doğanlı villages where security operations against the PKK are ongoing.