Turkey has intensified its operations against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that was designated a terrorist organization by the government of Receb Tayyib Erdogan.
Thousands of Kurdish cities in east, and south-eastern Turkey were destroyed, displacing thousands of Kurdish people who were forced to leave their homes.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday a total of 43 members of the outlawed PKK had been “neutralized” so far as part of an operation Ankara launched in northern Iraq 13 days ago.
Operation Claw is the most significant campaign Turkey has mounted against the PKK in over a year. At the beginning in March 2018, Ankara mounted a substantial offensive operation against the group that also included the use of ground forces.
The Turkish Armed Forces launched the Operation Claw in northern Iraq’s Hakurk region against the PKK on May 27.
Turkish authorities often use the term “neutralized” to refer to deaths, but also to those wounded or captured.
The Turkish Defense Ministry claims its armed forces have rendered 74 caves and other shelters hitherto used by the PKK unusable and destroyed 53 mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) among other weapons.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said the operation would continue in the region until “the last terrorist is neutralized”.
Separately, two PKK members, one of whom was on Turkey’s wanted list, were “neutralized” in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakir province, the Interior Ministry said.
Another PKK member was arrested in Diyarbakir at a traffic checkpoint, the local gendarmarie said.
The PKK insurgency in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey began in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict. It is designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the European Union and United States.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015 after a brief reconciliation period.
The Hakurk area facilitates Kurdish militants crossings between Qandil and Iraqi Salahaddin province bordering Syria, where the PKK’s Syrian offshoot, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), controls the northeastern one-third of the country.