Turkish fighter planes continued today to bombard Kurdish guerrilla bases in northern Iraq with “search and clean up” operations by ground commands, while the arrests of pro-Kurdish activists by Baghdad authorities continued.
The Defense Ministry indicated that Turkish military forces on Friday launched a new air and ground offensive against militants from the illegal Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which have retreated bases in northern Iraq and use the territory to organize their activities. actions in Turkey, in particular in the southeast with a majority of the Kurdish population.
This military incursion is the first in the region since February, when 13 Turkish citizens, who had been kidnapped by Kurdish insurgents, were found dead in a cave and following an apparent failed Turkish operation that intended to rescue them.
In recent decades, Turkey has conducted numerous air and ground operations in this border area against the PKK, and the latest offensive has focused on the Iraqi regions of Metina and Avashin-Basyan, in the north of the country.
A statement from the Ministry of Defense states that the operation was proceeding “as planned”, with alleged targets of the PKK being hit “simultaneously from the air and from the ground”.
Command troops, launched by parachutes in the region, were in parallel to “remove all stones” while destroying suspected PKK shelters, including caves, in addition to weapons, ammunition, artisanal explosives and mines, according to the statement.
The PKK described this latest incursion of “genocidal attack”, and called on “world democracies” to take a stand against Turkey.
Today, a local official quoted by AFP news agency indicated that dozens of pro-PKK Iraqi protesters have been detained since Sunday for demonstrating against the new Turkish military incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan.
On Sunday, “54 protesters were detained during a protest in Souleimaniyeh”, southern Iraqi Kurdistan, organized a day after the intense air bombing and Turkish land raids against the PKK in the northern Kurdish border with Turkey, said Mohammed Abdallah, leader of the Kurdistan Freedom and Society Movement, a party close to the PKK.
The same official said that among those detained by the local police, “including a journalist and five women”, some were subjected to “violence, coups, and insults by the forces of law and order”.
Journalist Rebaz Hassan of the news agency Firat (pro-PKK) was released, along with 15 other protesters, “but the rest remain in prison,” he added.
Iraqi Kurdistan is generally singled out by human rights defenders, who denounce arbitrary arrests, violations of the right to demonstrate, and regular attacks on press freedom.
In Souleimaniyeh, protests against the cost of living took place in 2020 and after civil servants had not received their salaries in months, with a balance of eight dead protesters, some of them teenagers and families still awaiting justice, and dozens of arrests.
The PKK, which refuses to recognize the Iraqi Kurdish Government and advocates an autonomous and unified Kurdistan that includes the Kurdish regions of Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, is currently an enemy of Ankara but also of Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Turkey, which in practice has installed a dozen military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan for 25 years, regularly bombs the retreated PKK bases in mountainous areas of northern Iraq.
Baghdad protests regularly, but Ankara repeats that it must “take care” of the PKK in these regions if the Iraqi authorities “are not in a position to do so”.
About 40,000 people were killed after the 1984 PKK armed rebellion – considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, the United States, and the European Union – in the regions of south-eastern Turkey with a majority of the Kurdish population.
Source: with Agencies