Turkish army takes fight against PKK to rural areas
ISTANBUL – Hurriyet – 6 June 2016 – The Turkish military has shifted the direction of anti-terror operations from urban centers to rural areas in the country’s southeastern and eastern parts with jets bombing outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions inside the country.
The Turkish General Staff announced on June 5 that Turkish warplanes conducted air operations in rural areas of the Lice district of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır and northern Iraq on June 4, killing five or six PKK militants following intelligence assessments. Authorities were working to determine damage and losses in the two regions after the operations.
Turkish General Staff also announced that Turkish warplanes conducted three air operations in the country’s southeast and northern Iraq.
Turkish warplanes hit seven targets in the Yüksekova district of the eastern province of Hakkari, along with two targets in Avaşîn and four targets in the Kandil region in northern Iraq.
Meanwhile, on June 3, 20 PKK militants were killed during aerial operations targeting groups in the Şemdinli district of Hakkari, security sources said.
The aerial strikes came as PKK militants continue to carry out attacks on military personnel and police officers.
PKK militants attacked the Yeniaslanbaşar Gendarmerie Post on the Eruh Highway early on June 5 with long-barreled weapons. An armed clash erupted between soldiers and the fleeing militants.
One village guard was heavily wounded during the clashes and transferred to Şırnak Military Hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.
Meanwhile, one PKK militant was killed in the clashes.
In the afternoon hours, PKK militants attacked a gendarmerie vehicle with long-barreled weapons near the Harmancık Tunnel between the center of Gümüşhane and Torul district.
Specialized sergeants Özgür Tok and Salih Bulut were wounded in the attack. Tok later succumbed to his injuries at Gümüşhane State Hospital. Bulut was transferred to another hospital for treatment.
Gümüşhane Gov. Yücel Yavuz said the soldiers were attacked while carrying out patrol duties, adding that operations were continuing to apprehend the PKK militants.
The aerial strikes and causalities came a couple of days after the governor’s offices of Mardin and Şırnak issued announcements that operations in the towns against PKK militants had been concluded.
An operation against PKK militants in Mardin’s Nusaybin district has ended after 82 days of fighting, Turkish security sources said June 3.
The sources said a total of 496 militants were killed, 508 barricades removed, 52 trenches filled in and 1,258 improvised explosive devices destroyed during the nearly three-month operation that began on March 14.
But a curfew is set to continue as security forces try to locate and destroy explosive devices planted by militants.
In addition, ongoing fighting in Şırnak province which started also on March 14, has also ended, said the sources.
A total of 498 militants were killed, 240 barricades removed, 39 pits filled in, 1,539 improvised explosive devices destroyed and 4,131 homes checked, it was stated. In the Şırnak operation, 20 members of the security forces were killed and two civilians lost their lives.
According to experts, with the conclusion of operations in urban area, Turkish armed forces will take the fight against militants back to rural parts.
In the first cabinet meeting of the new government chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, critical decisions were made in the fight against terrorism. A new concept was adopted in the fight against the PKK, said daily Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi.
“Instead of a defensive approach to PKK attacks, a ‘preventative strike’ strategy will be adopted wherever the state is operational. These can be called ‘terror-preventing operations,’ resembling the U.S.’s global strategy after 9/11 and actually first developed by Israel,” said Selvi.
“The National Security Council (MGK) and the cabinet recently discussed the rural fight against the PKK. This summer will certainly be hot in terms of fighting. When rural operations intensify further, the load will be borne by the Diyarbakır 7th Corps Command and the Van Gendarmerie Public Order Corps Command. In those cities and towns where operations have been completed, commando units will be deployed to rural areas. The Gendarmerie Special Operation Teams, which have been extremely successful in the recent urban clashes, will also be assigned to rural operations,” Selvi added.