Turkey announced Monday April 18 that it had launched a new air and ground offensive against Turkish Kurdish rebels stationed in northern Iraq. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said commandos, drones and attack helicopters had launched the offensive against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) hideouts in three regions near the Turkish border.
“A large number of terrorists have been neutralized,” he said, assuring that the operation would gain momentum “in the coming hours and days”. The minister did not say how many soldiers were involved in the offensive, which he said was launched on Sunday evening.
A PKK spokesman spoke of this and did not want to be named“Intense fighting between the Turkish army and the HPG [Forces de défense du peuple] »the military wing of the party. “The Army of Occupation [nom donné à l’armée turque par le PKK]who attempted to land troops from helicopters also attempted a land advance”he assured.
Visit of the Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan
Turkey regularly raids PKK positions as described “Terrorist” by Ankara and its western allies, who have bases and training camps in the Sinjar region and in the mountainous areas of Iraqi Kurdistan.
According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, this precise military operation was intended to thwart a large-scale PKK attack on Turkey. But the local media have been talking about such an operation for weeks.
The offensive was launched two days after Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan Masrour Barzani visited Turkey, suggesting he was made aware of Ankara’s intentions. Mr Barzani said after his talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he was in favour “Enhancing cooperation to promote security and stability” in northern Iraq.
The government of Iraqi Kurdistan has a complicated relationship with the PKK rebels, whose presence hampers trade relations with Turkey. The Turkish army’s offensives have also increased tensions between Ankara and Iraq’s central government in Baghdad, which accuses Turkey of not respecting the country’s territorial integrity.