Turkey launches new ground and air offensive in northern Iraq

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FILE – Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar arrives for a North Atlantic Council meeting with Georgia and Ukraine at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. Turkey has launched a new offensive cross-border land and air border against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, the Turkish Minister of Defense announced on Monday, April 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys, File)

PA

Turkey has launched a new cross-border ground and air offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, which has killed at least 19 suspected Kurdish rebels and injured at least four Turkish soldiers, the Turkish Minister of Security announced on Monday. defense.

Turkish fighter jets and artillery struck suspected targets of 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.

At least 19 militants were killed while four Turkish soldiers were injured in the offensive, the ministry said. There was no immediate comment from the Kurdish militant group on the incursion and the Ministry of Defense statement could not be independently verified.

Turkey has conducted numerous cross-border air and ground operations against the PKK over the past decades. The latest offensive, dubbed Operation Claw Lock, focused on the Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan regions of northern Iraq.

There was no information on the number of soldiers and aircraft involved in the latest incursion.

“Our heroic commandos and maroon berets – supported by attack helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, armed unmanned aerial vehicles – arrived on the scene by land and air and captured the determined targets,” said Akar in a second video. “Many terrorists have been neutralized.”

“At this point we have reached, all intended targets have been captured,” he said.

The Ministry of Defense said the new offensive 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 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.

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.

Sharon P. Juarez