70 Killed in Turkey’s New Anti-PKK Operations

70 Killed in Turkey’s New Anti-PKK Operations70 Killed in Turkey’s New Anti-PKK Operations

Seventy suspected members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were killed in a vast operation against the group in the mainly Kurdish southeast over the past four days, the Turkish army said Saturday. Eight PKK rebels have been killed since Friday, taking the death toll in the unprecedented offensive by the army and police on pro-PKK bastions in three towns and cities to 70, the army said on its website, AFP reported.

The army said it had also carried out airstrikes Friday on PKK “hideouts” and “weapons sites” across the border in northern Iraq, where the outlawed group has its rear bases.

A Turkish soldier was killed in the operations Saturday, bringing the death toll on the army side to two. Some 10,000 troops backed by tanks have been deployed in the south-east to rout young PKK supporters from urban areas, according to local media.

The operation, which has targeted the towns of Cizre and Silopi in Sirnak Province as well as a neighborhood in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the region, began on Wednesday according to the army. Thirty-six militants were killed on Thursday alone.

Army chief Hulusi Akar visited Sirnak on Saturday for a briefing by the local military command. The army said that two schools that had been used by the PKK as hideouts had been rendered inoperable while a stash of arms had been seized in Silopi. The operations mark a new escalation in five months of fighting between the army and the PKK since a two-and-a-half year truce collapsed in July.