Turkish forces kill 25 PKK militants in operation
Twenty-four PKK members have been killed in Cizre since the operations began earlier this week, while one was killed in Silopi
Turkish security forces have killed 25 Kurdish militants this week as they battle suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) inside two flashpoint towns, security sources said on Thursday.
The operations conducted inside the towns of Cizre and Silopi in the southeastern Sirnak province, backed by curfews, mark a new escalation in five months of fighting with the PKK since a truce collapsed.
Twenty-four PKK members have been killed in Cizre since the operations began earlier this week, while one was killed in Silopi, security sources told AFP, increasing an earlier toll.
The authorities had already announced on Wednesday that eight PKK fighters had been killed in Cizre.
According to Turkish media, some 10,000 members of the police and army have been deployed in Cizre and Silopi in one of the biggest operations yet against the PKK, who have erected barricades and ditches inside the towns.
Although analysts have called for peace talks, the authorities led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have said Ankara must "eradicate" the PKK which in recent months has again built up a significant presence in urban centres.
“The terrorists wanted to paralyse daily life in these towns by intimidating inhabitants who they had extorted,” Interior Minister Efkan Ala told the state-run Anatolia news agency.
Cizre has a population of some 100,000, while Silopi has over 80,000 people.
He said the authorities had seized 2,240 weapons, ten tons of explosives and 10,000 Molotov cocktails from the militants.
Images published by Anatolia showed heavily armed soldiers backed by tanks going house-to-house in the towns and firing from street corners.
The authorities also imposed blanket and open-ended curfews in the two towns, the latest in a succession of such measures across the southeast that have angered activists.
There have also been growing tensions over a curfew in the Sur district of southeastern Diyarbakir province -- also mainly Kurdish -- that has been in place almost uninterrupted since December 2.
There were new clashes early Thursday between police and pro-PKK sympathizers in Diyarbakir, an AFP correspondent reported.
In a new report Thursday, the International Crisis Group (ICG) urged both sides to “urgently” resume peace talks, saying Turkey’s return to a military-based approach would only intensify the conflict.
“Turkey faces a critical choice: to advance its military strategy against the PKK in a fight that is bound to be protracted and inconclusive, or to resume peace talks,” the non-governmental think tank said.
The ICG said that rather than talking to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, Turkey’s “strategy is instead cent red on fighting the PKK, particularly until its recently empowered urban structures are eradicated.”
The PKK launched a formal insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, initially fighting for Kurdish independence although it now presses more for greater autonomy and rights for the country’s largest ethnic minority. The conflict has left tens of thousands dead.
Three soldiers, 28 Kurdish militants killed in Turkish southeastThe operations came despite a PKK call a week ago ordering its forces to halt all militant actions in Turkey unless attacked Middle East
Six Turkish soldiers, 20 Kurdish rebels killed in clashesThe fighting erupted despite a pledge by the PKK to suspend all offensive actions ahead of Turkey’s snap elections Middle East
Five dead in PKK attacks in TurkeyThe police officers were killed and another was wounded when they came under fire Middle East
Turkey launches air strikes on PKK in Iraq and southeast TurkeyTurkish warplanes struck 23 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets including shelters and supply points in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey on Friday night Middle East
PKK Kurdish rebels suspend attacks ahead of Turkey pollsThere has been speculation that the PKK was to announce a new ceasefire to help the HDP boost its score in the upcoming election Middle East
Turkey kills over 10 Kurdish militants, 44 people detained in IstanbulTurkey’s crackdown on the PKK began in July after a 2 1/2-year-old ceasefire collapsed and has escalated ahead of a snap national election on Nov. 1 Middle East
Iraq tells Turkey to coordinate its strikes on PKKIraq has called on Ankara to coordinate with Baghdad in its military campaign against PKK positions in northern Iraq Middle East
How peace with Turkey emboldened the PKKBoth sides must return to peace talks, with conditions that they must be held transparently with no strings attached Middle East
Girl killed, five wounded by militant rocket in TurkeySoutheast Turkey has been scorched by deadly fighting between security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) Middle East