Kurdish War: Retaliation


October 7,2008:  In the wake of the October 4 attack on the Turkish gendarme outpost in eastern Turkey, the Turkish government is saying that it is prepared to launch a new series of cross-border operations. Turkey is putting pressure on Iraq's central government and the Iraqi Kurd regional government.

October 5, 2008: A PKK source said the October 4 attack on the Aktutun border outpost was "retaliation" for the Turkish military attacks during the Moslem holidays of Eid al-Fitr. The Kurd source said that the PKK had declared a "unilateral truce" and the Turks had violated it.

October 4, 2008: PKK rebels stuck a Turkish gendarmerie border outpost in the village of Aktutun, which is near the town of Semdinli in Hakkaria province (southeastern Turkey). The border post (Aktutun Gendarmerie Station) is about ten kilometers from the Iraq-Turkey border. 15 Turkish soldiers and 23 PKK fighters died in the battle and a subsequent series of firefights that went on for five hours after the initial attack. Several reports said the PKK attack was supported by heavy weapons fire and one said the fire came from northern Iraq. This is very possible; the PKK uses tactical rockets with that range, though more often these larger PKK raids are supported by medium (81-82mm) mortars (with a range of three to four kilometers). The attack was also supported by volleys of rocket-propelled grenades, which is a very common tactic. The terrain is very rugged, which gives a rapid moving column of infiltrators good cover from both aerial and ground observation. This is one reason the post has been struck many times in the past. In fact, the PKK attacked Aktutunb in September 1992 and killed 20 Turkish soldiers. Still, this attack represents a major PKK effort and likely involved at least 100 rebel fighters (maybe more) in the assault and several dozen more in the fire support and logistical efforts. Why make a big effort now? Turkey has hit the PKK hard throughout 2008. Turkey and Iraq have made significant political progress. The PKK needs headlines that say "We're still around." And the PKK got those headlines.

October 2, 2008: Germany reported it had arrested a Turkish Kurd who is "a leading member" of the PKK. The man was arrested as he tried to enter Germany from Denmark. Germany and other EU countries have been cracking down on PKK fundraising and political activities in western Europe. The man arrested, identified as "Aslan Y", however, appears to be a major operative. The Germans believe he carried out at least seven arson attacks on Turkish-owned or operated businesses in Germany during the early 1990s. He may also have been involved in other attacks. The warrant for his arrest was issued in 1999.

October 1, 2008: The military said PKK rebels attacked a security outpost (a phrase which usually means a Turk police, gendarmerie, or local security position) in the town of Hani (Diyarbakir province). One Turkish soldier was killed in the attack and one wounded.

September 30, 2008: The latest series of Turkish military operations appear to be Turkey's annual "fall offensive." If the operations follow the usual pattern, Turkish forces will try to take advantage of good weather before winter sets in. In the past the PKK has tried to use September and October to move food supplies from northern Iraq to safe houses or caches in southeastern Turkey. This  supplies small bands of PKK fighters through the winter months. All in all, September proved to be a very active month in southeastern Turkey. One military report said that between September 1 and September 26, a total of 17 Turkish soldiers and security personnel were killed in fighting with the PKK. The same report estimated that 45 PKK rebels had been killed. The Turkish death toll includes security personnel killed by mines and terror bombings.

September 27, 2008: The Turkish military reported that eight PKK rebels surrendered to Turkish forces in Sirnak province.

September 26, 2008: Turkish aircraft bombed 16 suspected PKK positions in northern Ireaq's Qandil Mountain region.

September 25, 2008: Turkish security troops killed six PKK rebels in a firefight near Eruh (Siirt province). One Turkish soldier was killed in an operation near Mount Cudi.

September 22, 2008: A bomb detonated in the town of Yuksekova (Hakkari province) killed one Turkish soldier and wounded two others.



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