Turkish forces patrolling near the Kurdistan Region border. File photo: Mustafa Ozer/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — As Turkey’s ground operations against the PKK continue in the northern areas of the Kurdistan Region, Turkish troops have intensified their bombardments and artillery shells, stationing soldiers on top of eight mountains in the past day.
The mountains are located in Sidakan, in northern Erbil province, overlooking Barazgir and Dooramolk plains. With the capture of these mountain peaks, Turkey has now entered 20 kilometers deep into the Kurdistan Region.
Faris Rasul, the chieftain of the Shapan village in Sidakan, told Rudaw that from last night until 2 p.m. on Friday, Turkey constantly bombed the area and later deployed soldiers atop the peaks of Mounts Shapan, Dilan, Kawet, Bane, Chiasor, Alakan and Chiyanaya.
Turkish troops are a hill away from Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) forces in Sidakan, a Rudaw correspondent reported on Friday night.
There is no history of PDKI clashing with the Turkish military, but several other armed Kurdish political groups from Iran who are opposed to the Islamic Republic are also in the area.
Sidakan is 90 kilometers northeast of Erbil city and in Soran district.
Turkish army began a ground offensive against alleged PKK positions in the Kurdistan Region on March 10. By the end of the month they had pushed 10 kilometers across the international border.
According to information Rudaw has obtained, the Turkish troops have been making roads to the peaks of the mountains as it stations its forces.
The continued Turkish attacks have forced a large number of villagers to flee their houses.
Ihsan Chalabi, Sidakan town mayor also told Rudaw “over the past 24 hours, the Turkish army has advanced 6 kilometers into the Kurdistan Region territories.”
“Advances are ongoing on a daily basis,” he added.
Both the PKK and the Turkish army have claimed they have killed the other’s forces, but they aren’t self-reporting their own casualties.
Turkey regularly bombs border areas in the Kurdistan Region, where the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has its headquarters in Qandil.
Ankara accelerated its operations in March, spreading into other areas along the border. They have threatened to go to the Yezidi homeland Shingal, if Baghdad does not remove the foreign presence.
“We do not ask for permission from anyone, nor do we look into anyone’s eyes for all this,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
“You may hear new goals at any moment,” he added.
KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani was asked about Turkey’s violations of the Kurdistan Region.
“As the Kurdistan Region, we have a principle. Our principle is that the territories of the Kurdistan Region must in no way be used to attack, to cause violence against our neighbors. This policy as a principle stands the same for Turkey, Iran or Syria,” Barzani said.
“We do not accept, nor do we allow the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to be used to cause violence in those countries.”
The Kurdish premier said his government has tried on many occasions to convince the PKK to stop attacking Turkey from within the Kurdistan Region, but that such efforts “unfortunately” failed.
“It is not acceptable for the PKK to launch military operations from the territories of Kurdistan, and then return to the Kurdistan Region,” he said.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has fought sometimes armed struggle against the Turkish state off and on for nearly 40 years. They seek greater political, cultural, and minority rights for the people of Turkey.