Turkey has launched new air and ground attacks against Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, said defense minister Hulusi Akar.
Commando units and special forces, backed by unmanned aerial vehicles and attack helicopters involved in Operation Claw-Lock, targeted the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) hideouts in the Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan regions of northern Iraq, Akar said Monday. .
He did not say how many troops were involved in the operation.
The defense ministry said the operation, which began late Sunday, came after it was discovered that the PKK was planning a large-scale attack against Turkey. Operation planning has been reported in the Turkish media for weeks.
It was launched two days after a rare visit to Turkey by the prime minister of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region, Masrour Barzani, indicating he had been briefed on Ankara’s plans.
Barzani said after his talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he welcomed the “expansion of cooperation to promote security and stability” in northern Iraq.
The Kurdistan Regional Government has an uneasy relationship with the PKK group, whose presence complicates the region’s lucrative trade relations with Turkey.
Turkey regularly carries out attacks in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, where the PKK has bases and training camps in Sinjar and on the mountainous border with Turkey. The latest comes after Operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle were launched by Turkey in northern Iraq in 2020.
But the attack has damaged Ankara’s relations with Iraq’s central government in Baghdad, which accuses Turkey of failing to respect the country’s territorial integrity. Iraq has not commented on the latest operation.
There was no direct statement from the PKK.
Designated a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies, the PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the PKK began its struggle against the Turkish state.