Turkey, Iran launch joint operation against PKK
WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency
“We started joint operation with Iran against PKK on eastern border at 08.00 a.m. local time [0500GMT],” Süleyman Soylu said in Mediterranean province of Antalya.
“We will announce the outcome of the operation later. We will eliminate [PKK],” Soylu said.
Turkey has recently talked about a possible joint operation with neighbor Iran to counter outlawed PKK militants but this is the first time Turkish authorities have confirmed a raid.
Soylu did not specify precisely which PKK bases the planned operation targeted but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has in the past said it would be against militant hideouts in Iraq.
The Turkish military has often bombed PKK bases in Iraq’s mountainous northern regions as part of its operations against the illegal group.
Iranian security forces have also fought the PKK affiliate PJAK. Both groups have rear bases in neighboring Iraq.
The PKK is deemed a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.
2 Iraqi soldiers killed in PKK clashes
Meanwhile, two Iraqi soldiers were killed in clashes with PKK militants in Sinjar in northern Iraq, according a statement released by the Iraqi Defense Ministry on March 18.
The ministry statement said clashes erupted late on March 17 after PKK militants attacked a security checkpoint when they were stopped for security clearance.
Five PKK militants were injured in the violence, the ministry said.
Local sources earlier said that the clashes had erupted between Iraqi forces and a PKK-linked militia known as Sinjar Resistance Units.
In mid-2014, the PKK sent fighters to Sinjar – from Syria and Iraq’s northeastern Qandil region – on the pretext that it was protecting Ezidis from ISIL.
Meanwhile, a wanted PKK militant code-named Havar Bedran was “neutralized” in Hakurk, northern Iraq, Turkish Defense Ministry said on March 17.
In a written statement, the ministry said the militant was identified as Serkan Tuncer and was one of the 12 “neutralized” militants in the operation on March 16.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply that the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
The militant was in the grey category of the Interior Ministry’s wanted list, the statement said.
The wanted list is divided into five color-coded categories, with red as the most wanted, followed by blue, green, orange and grey.