Kurdish War: The Annual Turkish Air Raids Are Devastating


August 29, 2011: As Turkey turns up the heat on Syria, it is also expanding combat operations against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Turkey has now launched several major air attacks on PKK bases in northern Iraq and says it will continue to do so, despite protests from the Iraqi Kurd regional government (KRG, as it is called). Apparently the government has decided that its diplomatic offensive has failed and that the PKK only understands war. The government (led by the Justice and Development Party, AKP) had made giving Turkish Kurds more cultural rights and greater political authority (called the democratic opening) one of its major political planks.

August 26, 2011: The government now estimates that some 2,000 PKK fighters are in bases through the Khandil Mountains in northeastern Iraq.

August 25, 2011: A mine destroyed a vehicle in Hakkari province (southeastern Turkey) and wounded two Turkish soldiers.

A senior AKP official in Turkey’s government said that he believes foreign powers (his words) are supporting both the PKK and the PJAK (PKK in Iran). The official said that Turkey and Iran had conducted successful military operations against Kurdish rebel forces. However, some Turkish media sources accuse Iran of playing a double game. Here’s the gist of it: Iran is offering Turkey help with the PKK if Turkey backs off on its threats to Syria. Syria is very valuable to Iran – it is Iran’s best ally and helps support Hamas and Hezbollah. If Turkey does not, then Iran starts helping the PKK. There are a lot of people who suspect that Iran has done that in the past, despite having its own Kurdish ethnic rebellion.

August 23, 2011: The Turkish military claimed that air strikes in northern Iraq had killed 100 PKK fighters. The report said that a total of 13 major targets were struck. The attacks occurred on August 20-22. The bases were located in or near the Khandil Mountains. The official statement said 73 hideouts, 18 caves, six shelters (type unspecified), eight depots, one arsenal (presumably a weapons repair installation), 14 separate buildings, nine anti-aircraft positions, and three control points were hit during the raids. Long-range artillery fire was also used against the PKK positions close to the Turkish border. The air strikes were in retaliation for the recent PKK attack on the town of Cukurca which left eight Turkish soldiers dead.

August 19, 2011: PKK rebels hit several targets in southern and southeastern Turkey. Two attacks on military installations in Siirt province (southern Turkey) killed two Turkish soldiers and left three civilians wounded. A PKK source indicated that the attacks would continue.

August 18, 2011: The Turkish government said that it would retaliate by bombing PKK bases in northern Iraq. It has been almost a year since Turkish aircraft have struck PKK targets in Iraq.

August 17, 2011: A PKK attack on the town of Cukurca (Hakkari province) left eight Turkish soldiers and one village guard dead and 15 soldiers wounded. Military reports indicate the PKK detonated a roadside bomb (an IED type device). A firefight erupted after the blast, which is why some reports are describing the incident as an ambush.

August 13, 2011: Three Turkish soldiers died in an ambush in eastern Turkey.

August 11, 2011: The PKK took credit for a bomb blast which damaged a natural gas pipeline near the Iran-Turkey border.

August 9, 2011: Turkish gendarmes (paramilitary police) killed a PKK fighter in a shootout in Mesudiye.

August 8, 2011: The Turkish government continues to pursue a harder line against Kurdish political parties in Turkey. The government is angry that after the June national elections several Kurdish leaders signed a statement declaring Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish areas to be politically autonomous. The pro-Kurd Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) won 36 parliamentary seats (out of 550) in the June 12 elections.


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