Turkey launches ground and air strikes in northern Iraq against PKK

Aircraft, artillery and troops involved in Operation Claw Lock, says Turkish defence minister

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said the operation against the PKK was 'continuing successfully'. AFP
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Turkey has launched a ground and air cross-border offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said early on Monday.

Turkish jets and artillery struck targets belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, before commandos, supported by helicopters and drones, crossed into the neighbouring region by land or were airlifted by helicopters, Mr Akar said in a video posted on the ministry’s website.

The jets “successfully” struck shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots and headquarters belonging to the PKK, AP reported Mr Akar as saying.

The PKK has bases in northern Iraq and has used the territory for attacks on Turkey.

Operation Claw Lock is aimed at “preventing terror attacks” to “ensure our border security”, Mr Akar said.

Turkey has conducted cross-border aerial and ground operations against the PKK over the past decades. The latest offensive was centred in northern Iraq’s Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan regions, Mr Akar said.

“Our operation is continuing successfully, as planned. The targets that were set for the first phase have been achieved,” he said.

Deadly rocket attack in northern Syria

This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrians around a burning car hit by a shell, in the town of Afrin, north of Aleppo, Thursday, Jan.  20, 2022.  The rocket attack on Afrin, controlled by Turkey-backed opposition fighters, killed several civilians and wounded over a dozen people on Thursday, Syrian rescuers and a war monitor said.  Both blamed U. S-backed Syrian Kurdish forces for the attack.  (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

He said the incursion was targeting “terrorists” and that “maximum sensitivity” was being shown to avoid damage to civilians and cultural and religious structures.

There was no immediate statement from the PKK.

The PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which in the past was mainly focused in south-east Turkey.

Turkish officials privately say they believe Baghdad is firmly on their side in fighting the PKK, which is also designated a terrorist group by the US and the EU.

Updated: April 21, 2022, 8:32 AM