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Turkey launches anti-terror operation against PKK in southeastern province

MARDIN, Turkey: Turkey launched an operation early on February 22 against the PKK terrorist organisation in southeastern Mardin province.

The city governorate announced that the anti-terror operation will take place in a total of 18 neighbourhoods in the towns of Mazıdağı, Derik and Kızıltepe.

The operation aims to ensure the safety of residents’ lives and property, “neutralise” terrorist PKK members including the organisation’s ringleaders and destroy shelters and storage facilities used by the terror group as well as arrest wanted people in the region.

Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralised” in statements to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

A curfew has been imposed on the 18 neighbourhoods as of 6:00 am local time (0300 GMT) and residents are advised to comply with the lockdown for safety reasons until further notice.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

As Turkey’s comprehensive efforts to eradicate terrorist groups continue, the country has launched a new phase of a domestic counterterrorism operation, the Interior Ministry said Monday.

Operation Eren-8 Amanoslar has started in southern Osmaniye, Hatay and south-eastern Gaziantep provinces with 96 teams, including over 1,670 personnel from the gendarmerie, police and village guards, the ministry said in a statement.

The first seven phases of the operation launched this year – Eren-1 Tendürek, Eren-2 Lice, Eren-3 Mt. Ağrı, Eren-4 Karlıova-Varto, Eren-5 Bagok, Eren-6 Mergelo and Eren-7 Mercan-Munzur Valley – are also ongoing, according to the ministry.

This year Turkey launched Operation Eren, named after Eren Bülbül, a 15-year-old killed by the PKK terrorist group on August 11, 2017. The fresh operation is aimed at eliminating the separatist terrorist group and clear the region of terrorists.

Turkish security forces regularly conduct counterterrorism operations in the eastern and south-eastern provinces of Turkey, where the PKK has attempted to establish a strong presence.

In July, the country also launched the first of a series of “Lightning” operations in the south-eastern province of Şırnak, and its associated operations are meant to target terrorists believed to be hiding out in eastern and south-eastern Turkey.

The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) regularly conducts cross-border operations in northern Iraq, a region where PKK terrorists have hideouts and bases from which to carry out attacks in Turkey. Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) also previously called the PKK’s presence in Sinjar unacceptable and urged the militants to leave the area.

In northern Iraq, Turkey launched operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle in June to ensure the safety of the Turkish people and borders by eliminating the threat of the PKK and other terrorist groups.

PKK leadership is struggling to recruit both militants and higher ranks, according to reports. Additionally, many terrorists are reluctant to enter Turkey from Iraq to carry out attacks due to the high number of casualties. In a recent visit to Iraq, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that the threat of the PKK must be eliminated through unity and solidarity to ensure border security and peace with its neighbours.

Since 2016, Turkey has also launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations in northern Syria, across its border, to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and to enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).