ANKARA --- The Turkish military has launched a land operation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, stating that its aim is to “prevent PKK militants from threatening border security.”
The operation is the first time in nine years that Turkish land forces have engaged in Iraq.
Commando units entered the Zap region of Iraq after crossing from the Çukurca district of the southeastern province of Hakkari. The move, which is part of “Operation Zap,” came after the military determined an increase in movement of outlawed militants in the area, Doğan News Agency reported on Oct. 18.
A total of 21 PKK militants have been “neutralized” since the air-supported operations began on Oct. 16, according to statements made by the military. Authorities use the word “neutralized” to refer to militants who are killed, wounded or captured.
Four soldiers were killed in two separate PKK bomb attacks in Zap, according to the army, which revealed the identities of the soldiers as Furkan Aydın, İlhan Sezer, Seçkin Arıkan and Adem Gezer.
Airstrikes were subsequently carried out in the area with warplanes and armed drones.
The aim of the operation is to “neutralize” PKK militants preparing cross-border attacks, maintain border security and secure the passage routes of Turkish soldiers to the military base regions in northern Iraq, according to the military.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has been conducting airstrikes in northern Iraq in order to prevent PKK militants’ infiltration, while also aiming to stop the militants from moving between Iraq and Syria.
The operation is the TSK’s first land move in Zap in nine years. The last one, “Operation Sun,” took place in 2008 and was carried out to destroy PKK camps in the region.
Meanwhile, a military drill that was launched on Sept. 18 near the Habur border gate in the Silopi district of the southeastern province of Şırnak is continuing.
The third stage of that drill, which began on Sept. 26, includes the participation of the Iraqi armed forces and related units.