Turkish jets ‘neutralize’ 26 PKK militants in Kandil: Military

Turkish jets ‘neutralize’ 26 PKK militants in Kandil: Military

Turkish jets ‘neutralize’ 26 PKK militants in Kandil: Military

Turkish jets “neutralized” 26 outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, including a senior member, as part of counter-terrorism operations in northern Iraq, the military said on June 15.

Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply that the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

In a statement, the Turkish General Staff said the fighter jets had conducted airstrikes targeting the group on June 12 in the Kandil region.

Airstrikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq have been carried out regularly since July 2015, when a peace process between Ankara and the PKK broke down, but recently the Turkish military has stepped up the airstrikes, which officials refer to as “a new phase.”

Turkish officials have indicated Iran’s cooperation in the fight against the PKK is also needed, as Kandil is very closed to the Iranian border. On June 14, in an interview with state-run broadcaster TRT, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Iran was “ready for cooperation against the PKK” with Ankara.

“The Kandil operation is Turkey’s security issue. The operations are not indexed to the elections. Iran is ready for cooperation with us in the fight against the PKK,” Yıldırım said.

However, the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces denied reports that Iran would approve of a potential Turkish military operation in northern Iraq, Iran’s Tasnim News Agency said.

“In spite of Iran’s support for any anti-terrorist action, the Islamic Republic believes a military operation within the borders of a third country on the pretext of combating terrorism without legal permission from the legitimate government of the country is unlawful,” said a senior spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier-General Abolfazl Shekarchi in comments on June 14.

PKK ammunition seized in Hakkari 

Meanwhile, in a separate operation undertaken by the Turkish military in the rural areas of southeastern province of Hakkari, a huge ammunition cache that belongs to the PKK was discovered.

It was the largest ammunition found in the province so far, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told reporters in Hakkari on June 15.

Soylu said 116 Kalashnikov rifles, a DShK heavy machine gun, five infantry rifles, three anti-tank guided missile munitions, 13 PK machine guns, five RPG-7, seven designated marksman rifles, and over 400 grenades were seized in the İkiyaka Mountains and the Düztepe neighborhood.

In a separate statement, the army also said a total of 93 militants were “neutralized” during counter-terrorism operations across Turkey between June 8-14. Among them are three senior figures, according to the statement.

Three Turkish soldiers were also killed and 18 others were injured during these operations, the statement added.