Turkey hits Kurdish militants in Iraq, Syria

Middle East News
2024-01-16 | 11:15
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Turkey hits Kurdish militants in Iraq, Syria
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4min
Turkey hits Kurdish militants in Iraq, Syria

Turkey said it had destroyed 23 targets in overnight air strikes on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq and Syria, a further escalation of conflict south of its border.

The attacks were the latest by Turkey since nine Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq on Friday.

The new strikes were on targets in northern Syria and the Metina, Gara, Hakurk and Qandil regions of northern Iraq, the defence ministry said late on Monday.

"Twenty-three targets were destroyed, including caves, shelters, tunnels, ammunition warehouses, supply materials and facilities used by the terrorist organisation," it said in a statement accompanied by a photo of Turkish warplanes.

It said many militants had been "neutralised", a term commonly used to be mean killed.

Separately, Iranian state media reported late on Monday that Kurdistan was the scene of an unrelated attack by Iran's Revolutionary Guards on what it said was the "spy headquarters" of Israel there. Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Tuesday they had carried out the attack, and one in Syria, in defence of its sovereignty and security and to counter terrorism.

The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the insurgency.

The conflict was long fought mainly in rural areas of southeastern Turkey but is now more focused on the mountains of northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, where PKK militants are based.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on social media platform X that counter-terrorism police had also detained 165 people in operations targeting the PKK across 28 Turkish provinces.

The operations had targeted people viewed as being in the PKK, having aided it or spread what he called PKK propaganda.

Since 2019, Turkey has set up a 15- to 30-kilometre-deep buffer zone along its border with Iraq as part of cross-border operations dubbed "Claw", Defence Minister Yasar Guler told lawmakers during a debate on recent attacks in Iraq's north.

"With the Claw-Lock operation, which began in 2022, our Iraq border became completely safe and our border safety is secured. If we hadn't been there, terrorist attacks on our borders would have continued," Guler said.

Turkey has built 620 kilometres of roads in "Claw" operation zones and Turkish troops had "neutralised" 1,689 PKK militants in the operation zone since 2019, Guler added.

Turkish state media and other sources said on Monday Turkey had also carried out a wave of air strikes on electricity and oil infrastructure in Syria's Kurdish-held northeast, putting several power stations out of service.

Turkey has staged a series of military incursions and bombing campaigns in Syria's north against the Kurdish YPG militia, which it regards as a wing of the PKK.

Turkish authorities said on Monday police had detained 18 people for "praising terrorism" after Friday's killing of the Turkish soldiers, and that a high-level PKK member was "neutralised" in northern Iraq.

Reuters
 

Middle East News

Turkey

Strikes

Kurdish

Militants

Iraq

Syria

Escalation

Border

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