Turkish military releases details of anti-PKK offensive
ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
AA photoThe Turkish Armed Forces have released details of a 40-day air and land operation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) mountain bases in the southeastern province of Hakkari.
According to local army sources, the sweeping operation - named after Staff Lt. Col. İlker Çelikcan - was launched on Sept. 27 and was brought to a conclusion on Nov. 5. Çelikcan, who was killed in action in Hakkari on Sept. 7, is the highest-ranking Turkish soldier to die in recent renewed fighting with the PKK.
The recent operation targeted the area from the Buzul Mountain and the İkiyaka Mountains to the Doski Valley in the Yüksekova district of Hakkari, where the PKK had aimed to declare a “safe zone” and stronghold for itself.
Military sources say that throughout the stalled peace process, which began in early 2013, PKK militants dug bases in the mountains with drilling machines and settled Russian-made DShK anti-aircraft guns in a number of shelters.
During the 40-day operation, Turkish soldiers combed the precipitous mountains and valleys and destroyed each of the positions, shelters and caves used by the PKK.
The anti-terror operations were joined by two commando brigades and troops from Turkey’s special forces.
They were conducted jointly with air force fighter jets, sometimes in temperatures as low as -15 celsius at night.
A total of 119 PKK militants were killed in the campaign, while several IEDs they had planted on the roads, as well as materials and chemicals used to make them, were seized during the air and land operations.
In addition, five Russian-made DShK anti-aircraft guns, 39 heavy weapons, and 10,000 rounds of ammunition were seized.
Six soldiers were killed during clashes.
Turkish security forces have also responded to renewed PKK attacks in the southeast by launching airstrikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq and the army has sent ground troops across the border. The military claims it has killed up to 1,000 PKK militants in the strikes.
In early September, Turkey also sent two units of its special forces, amounting to 230 troops, into northern Iraq for the first time in more than two years to pursue PKK militants, a military source said.