Turkey launches major offensive into PKK targets in Northern Iraq
The Turkish army has launched a major offensive against PKK hideouts and targets in northern Iraq in a bid to destroy the terror organization’s capacity to attack Turkey in the coming months, the Defense Ministry has announced, informing that many terrorists were neutralized and their structures were hit as a preliminary result of the military operation.
The “Operation Claw Lock” was launched by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in the early hours of April 18 with airstrikes by Turkish fighter jets in Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan regions in northern Iraq, where PKK has its training camps and other hideouts. The operation aims to neutralize the terrorists and destroy their structures before they can resume their terrorist activities following the harsh conditions of winter.
The PKK, designated as a terror organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has had its headquarters and main facilities in northern Iraq since the early 1980s. The intensified operations by the security organizations against the PKK in recent years have dealt a serious blow to the PKK’s capacity to attack Turkey.
“As of now, all of the planned targets have been achieved. A large number of terrorists have been neutralized,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement on April 18 as the operation continued with the participation of Special Forces and commandos on the ground.
Stressing that the operation was only possible after long-running preparations, Akar said: “Our friends successfully completed their mission. The shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots and so-called headquarters of terrorists were destroyed with great success by air operations and fire support vehicles.”
The military operation was carried out in line with Turkey’s respect for the territorial integrity of Iraq, and its sole targets were terrorists, the minister stated, informing that Turkey’s drones and armed drones, as well as attack helicopters, joined the air and ground forces.
“Our activities will continue determinately until the last terrorist is neutralized and all terror nests are destroyed,” he noted.
In a separate statement, the Defense Ministry stressed that the operation was pursued, with the coordination of Turkey’s friends and allies, without detailing them. The military mostly used nationally developed equipment and ammunition during the operation, it added.
More than 50 targets were hit during the operation.
The Turkish army has long been conducting cross-border operations into northern Iraq under the “Operation Claw Lock,” but this current “Claw Lock” constitutes the biggest one of this series. Its main target was the Zap region from where terrorists have been infiltrating Turkey for terrorist activities. Only 30 kilometers away from the Turkish border, the Zap region also hosts the PKK’s major hideouts and senior leaders. Around 50 targets were hit by the military during the operation.