Turkish forces have been fighting the PKK since a two-and-a-half year cease-fire broke down in late July. AA photo.
ANKARA, Turkey – Turkish forces killed 119 fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and lost six men themselves during a 40-day land and air assault against the rebels in southeastern Hakkari province, the military said Saturday.
Since late July, when attacks shattered a peace process with the PKK that began in 2013, Turkish jets and artillery have been intermittently pounding the PKK in Turkey and northern Iraq.
The official Anadolu Agency (AA) reported local army sources as saying that the operation in Hakkari lasted from Sept. 27 to Nov. 5 and targeted PKK mountain hideouts, seizing or destroying anti-aircraft guns and other heavy weapons.
Military sources claimed that, since after start of talks two years ago, the PKK had “dug the mountains with drilling machines and placed Russian-made DShK anti-aircraft guns, creating several shelters and positions for them.”
It said the area was of “strategic importance.”
“The recent operation targeted the area from Buzul Mount and Ikiyaka Mountains to Doski Valley in Yuksekova district, where the PKK aimed to declare a ‘safe zone’ and stronghold for itself,” said AA.
During the operation, Turkish soldiers reached remote and difficult mountain hideouts “and destroyed the positions, shelters and caves” of the PKK, the agency quoted military sources as saying.
The operation, which included commando brigades, Special Forces and the air force, was conducted “sometimes in temperatures as low as -15 Celsius at night in steep, rocky areas,” AA said.
Several IED bombs planted on the roads as well as materials and chemicals used in their fabrication were seized during the air and land operations, according to AA.
“In addition, five Russian-made DShK anti-aircraft guns, 39 heavy weapons and 10,000 rounds of ammunition were seized,” it said.
Meanwhile, one Turkish soldier was killed Saturday in a mine attack in the Kurdish province of Sirnak which authorities blamed on the PKK.
The military said that the day before in Sirnak one PKK rebel was killed, while four others died in Diyarbakir, in ongoing military operations.
Troops also destroyed 18 handmade bunkers and an ammunition cache, an army statement said.
Turkish forces have been fighting the PKK since a two-and-a-half year cease-fire broke down in late July following a bombing in Suruc.