Two Turkish soldiers killed in northern Iraq clash with PKK

Turkish forces increase operations in the semi-autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq

Turkish troops in armoured personnel carriers in the village of Iblin in the Jabal Al Zawiya region of Syria's rebel-held north-western Idlib province, on July 22, 2021. AFP
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Two Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes with the Kurdistan Workers Party, commonly known as the PKK, the Turkish defence ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Turkish forces maintain several bases and observation posts in the semi-autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq, where one of two ruling parties, the Kurdish Democratic Party, maintains good relations with Ankara.

The KDP opposes the PKK, which is listed by the US and EU as a terrorist organisation, but has struggled to control the Kurdish nationalist group’s activities in mountainous areas near the Turkish border.

Clashes occasionally occur in the mountainous northern parts of the Kurdish Region of Iraq, and in recent days the Turkish air force launched air strikes in the area near Kani Masi in Dohuk governorate.

The Iraqi government objects to the presence of Turkish troops but has so far been unable to force them to withdraw despite diplomatic efforts.

The PKK is a Marxist Kurdish separatist organisation that launched an armed insurgency against the Turkish government in the late 1970s. Since then, an estimated 40,000 people have been killed in harsh government crackdowns, mostly Kurds in southern Turkey.

The PKK has also launched terrorist attacks in Turkey, killing civilians, including a British citizen in a 1994 attack at the coastal resort of Marmaris.

This year, Turkey has again attempted to clear the PKK from northern Iraq in a military offensive, Operation Claw-Lightning.

The offensive is being conducted in tandem with operations in parts of Kurdish majority northern Syria, which Turkish forces and allied Islamist militias now occupy.

On July 24, two Turkish soldiers were killed near Al Bab in northern Syria after their armoured vehicle was struck by an anti-tank missile, an attack claimed by the local Kurdish group the People's Protection Units.

Updated: July 28, 2021, 7:25 AM