Turkish forces attacked Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq, media reported on Sunday (April 25).
“Heroic commandos of the heroic Turkish Armed Forces are in northern Iraq,” the defence ministry said in a tweet.
Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday the operations Pence-Simsek and Pence-Yildirim began on Friday in the Metina and Avasin-Basyan regions in northern Iraq and involved special forces backed by drones and attack helicopters.
The Minister did not specify how many soldiers were involved in the operations.
Turkish television showed images of paratroopers jumping from helicopters and camouflaged soldiers firing assault weapons.
“This operation, carried out with respect for Iraq’s territorial integrity, will contribute to the establishment of peace and security in the region,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video link address to the command center.
In February, Turkey launched an operation dubbed “Claw-Eagle 2” against PKK in the northern Iraqi region of Dohuk. According to Turkey, it was launched to secure the border between Turkey and Iraq and to eliminate the PKK in the area and to rescue Turkish hostages held by the PKK. Turkey accused the PKK of executing the 13 men before they could be freed. Originally claiming the hostages were killed by Turkish bombing, the PKK later stated that Turkey used poison gas that resulted in the death of the hostages, who were subsequently shot to place blame on the PKK, as per AFN News.
The February operations also created problems in Turkey’s relations with Iran, which now has a strong political and military presence in Iraq.
Turkey summoned the Iranian ambassador in the country over remarks alleging it violated Iraq’s sovereignty. Iran followed suit, summoning the Turkish ambassador in Tehran over comments made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing Iran of destabilizing the region.
The PKK, listed as a “terrorist organization” by Turkey, the US, and EU , has been using Iraq’s northern mountains as a springboard in its decades-long rebellion against the Turkish state.
The Turkish army regularly conducts cross-border operations and air attacks against PKK bases in northern Iraq.
Clashes between the Turkish army and Kurdish fighters are believed to have killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.
With reporting by Anadolu, Al Jazeera, AFN