Turkey to beef up army equipment in southeast
ANKARATurkey is set to beef up the protected military equipment and weapon systems used in street clashes between security forces and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the country’s violence-hit southeast.
Specifying the equipment needs of Turkish soldiers after weeks-long ground operations targeting militants from the outlawed group in the southeastern towns of Cizre, Sur and Silopi, the Turkish General Staff will buy tens of thousands of weapons and wearable military protective equipment, daily Hürriyet reported late Feb. 4.
The Turkish army will reportedly purchase weapon systems designated to be placed at blind spots and the type of combat helmets the U.S. military’s special operations forces currently use. The army will also reportedly buy around 22,000 helmets for Turkish commando brigades along with bulletproof vests and guards for each soldier.
The army will also buy long-barreled sniper rifles of medium and long range. Intelligence activities conducted in January revealed that PKK snipers armed with “Kanas” rifles, a Dragunov SVD rifle PKK militants use for assassinations in southeastern Turkey, pose a major threat to Turkish security forces. PKK snipers have thus far killed at least 23 Turkish security personnel and have targeted civilians, medical staff, ambulance drivers and caterpillar operators helping security forces during counterterrorism operations. At least 11 civilians have been reportedly killed in such attacks.
Among other military equipment the Turkish army will add to its inventory in the country’s southeast are optical target detectors, which analyze gunshot sounds to locate their source, and microdrones to be used in alleys.
Turkey has recently stepped up efforts to fight terrorism in the southeast, specifically with ground operations targeting militants from the PKK. Local governors have imposed curfews in several towns in the country’s east and southeast to remove militants from the area.
Cizre and Silopi, two districts in the southeastern province of Şırnak, as well as Sur, a district in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, have been experiencing round-the-clock or partial curfews since mid-December 2015.