Turkish forces clash with PKK as curfews expanded
Intense clashes were continuing inside the closed-off towns of Cizre and Silopi, with the sounds of firing and explosions heard from within
The Turkish army on Monday engaged in intense clashes with Kurdish militants as the military pressed on with one of its biggest recent domestic operations and controversial curfew orders were expanded to a new area in the Kurdish-dominated southeast.
The army has since last week pursued a relentless campaign against PKK rebels in the two southeastern towns of Cizre and Silopi, in a bid to root out militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The local authorities in the southeastern city of Nusaybin said Monday that a curfew measure in the town that had previously applied to three areas had been widened to cover 11 more, essentially the whole town.
“The curfew has been imposed until further notice, with the aim of avoiding harm to civilians,” the local authorities said in a statement.
Intense clashes were continuing inside the closed-off towns of Cizre and Silopi, with the sounds of firing and explosions heard from within, Turkish media reports said.
An army helicopter was unable to land in Cizre after it was fired on by the PKK, the Hurriyet daily said.
Similar operations, backed by curfews, are also in progress in the district of Sur in the Diyarbakir region and the Dargecit district of Mardin province.
In its latest toll, the army said that 89 Kurdish militants have been killed in Cizre since the operation began, including nine on Sunday alone. Nine have been killed in Silopi, seven in Sur, while official media have said 10 have been killed in Dargecit. It is not possible to independently verify the toll.
With tensions rising throughout Turkey’s southeast, police fired tear gas canisters in the city of Van to disperse a protest of 500 people against the curfews, arresting 18 people, the Dogan news agency reported.
Meanwhile hundreds of people seeking to march from the main provincial centre of Sirnak to Silopi and Cizre were blocked by police who used tear gas, pro-Kurdish media said.