Turkish military says anti-PKK offensive mainly inside Turkey

The Turkish General Staff said on Friday that air force and ground operations launched against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are being carried out mainly within Turkey, indicating that there are also air and ground operations being carried out in Iraq.

The military launched its offensive on Wednesday after the PKK carried out raids near the Turkey-Iraq border that killed 24 Turkish soldiers. The military said in a statement released on Thursday that 22 battalions, or about 10,000 soldiers, were taking part in the offensive, but it didn’t say how many of them were in southern Turkey and how many in northern Iraq.

“Following these incidents [terror attacks] and in order to find members of the terrorist organization who staged this heinous attack and to render them ineffective a large-scale ground offensive backed by air strikes has been launched in five separate regions within the country and outside the borders [in northern Iraq] with 22 battalions composed of commandoes and special operation units,” a statement released by the Turkish General Staff said.

The General Staff further clarified Thursday’s statement on Friday, saying the initial statement was misinterpreted by some media outlets which reported that the whole offensive was being carried out in Iraq. “While the majority of air and ground operations are being carried out within the country, in the Çukurca region [of Hakkari] in particular, air and ground operations are also under way outside the border in a few regions,” the military said on Friday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to share details of the military’s offensive on Thursday. “Our goal is to achieve results with this operation,” Erdoğan said in a nationally televised news conference. “The military is determinedly carrying out this [operation], both from the air and the ground,” he said.

Erdoğan also said he had requested the cooperation of the northern Iraqi regional administration. Nechirvan Barzani, a member of Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), who visited Erdoğan in Turkey on Thursday, said the northern Iraqi administration was willing to cooperate with Turkey.

Turkey launched the cross-border offensive against the PKK after the group staged simultaneous attacks on Turkish military and police targets along the border on Wednesday, killing 24 soldiers and wounding 18 others. On Friday, warplanes flew several bombing sorties out of a military base in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) television said. The airstrikes targeted PKK camps in Zap and Khakurk areas as well as Kandil, TRT reported.





21 October 2011, Friday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,