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ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey has launched a new cross-border ground and air offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, Turkey’s Defense Minister announced on Monday.
Turkish fighter jets and artillery struck targets belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and commandos – supported by helicopters and drones – then entered the area overland or were transported by helicopter, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a video posted on the ministry’s website.
Akar said the jets managed to hit shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots and headquarters belonging to the PKK. The group maintains bases in northern Iraq and has used the territory for attacks against Turkey.
Turkey has conducted numerous cross-border air and ground operations against the PKK over the past decades. The latest offensive has centered on the Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan regions of northern Iraq, Akar said.
“Our operation is continuing successfully, as planned. The objectives set for the first phase have been achieved,” said Akar.
There was no information on the number of soldiers and aircraft involved in the latest incursion.
“We are determined to save our noble nation from the terrorist misfortune that has plagued our country for 40 years,” Akar said. “Our fight will continue until the last terrorist is neutralized.”
The MoD later said the offensive, dubbed “Operation Claw Lock”, was launched after it was determined that militants were regrouping and preparing for a “full-scale attack”.
The offensive was carried out in coordination with Turkey’s “friends and allies”, the ministry added, without giving details. Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Masrour Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq which controls the attacked areas.
The Turkish minister said the incursion was targeting “terrorists” and “maximum sensitivity” was being shown to avoid causing harm to civilians and cultural and religious structures.
There was no immediate statement from the Kurdish militant group.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the PKK, designated a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, launched an insurgency in the Kurdish-majority southeast region of Turkey in 1984.