Turkiye Announces 'Neutralization' of 4 Workers' Members in Kurdistan Region with Air Strikes

Turkiye Announces 'Neutralization' of 4 Workers' Members in Kurdistan Region with Air Strikes

Shafaq News/ The Turkish Ministry of Defense announced, on Tuesday, the neutralization of 4 members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party with air strikes in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

The ministry said in a statement today that the Turkish army monitored those elements in the Matina area before “neutralizing” them.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense stressed its intention to continue destroying the strongholds of the anti-regime party in Ankara.

Notably, in April 2022, Ankara launched Operation Claw-Lock, targeting PKK hideouts in the Metina, Zap, and Avasin-Basyan regions near the Turkish border in northern Iraq.

In March, Turkiye proposed the establishment of a "joint operation center" with Iraq to combat the PKK, a move that has received a positive response from Baghdad.

According to a Turkish defense ministry official, the proposal aims to enhance cooperation in addressing the PKK's activities along the Iraq-Turkiye border.

Previously, a high-level Turkish delegation, including Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, Defense Minister Yasar Guler, and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) head Ibrahim Kalin, visited Baghdad for a top security meeting with Iraqi counterparts. This meeting marked the second round of discussions, with the first round held in Ankara in December.

During a press conference in Ankara, Brigadier General Zeki Akturk, the Turkish defense ministry's advisor for media and public relations, stated that Iraq and Turkiye are ready to sign a strategic framework document. This document aims to establish a joint operations center as part of Ankara's efforts in combating terrorism.

"Both countries are positively inclined towards our proposals for the Joint Operations Center and other cooperation efforts in combating terrorism," said Akturk. He also noted that Iraq recognizes the PKK as a threat.

The PKK conflict, spanning four decades, has been a persistent challenge, with Guler expressing disappointment in the Iraqi government's historical reluctance to acknowledge and ban the PKK as a terrorist organization.

However, recent developments have signaled a shift in Iraq's stance.

Following high-level talks between Turkish and Iraqi officials, Iraq announced the designation of the PKK as a "banned organization," aligning with Turkiye's concerns and paving the way for enhanced cooperation in combating terrorism.

The Turkish Armed Forces have been conducting cross-border military operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Northern Iraq since the 1980s.

In July 2015, a two-and-a-half year-long ceasefire broke down, and the conflict between Ankara and militants of the PKK – recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkiye, the U.S., Russia, and the European Union – entered one of its deadliest chapters in nearly four decades.

Since that date, the conflict has progressed through several phases. Between roughly 2015 and 2017, the violence devastated communities in some urban centers of Turkiye's majority Kurdish southeast and – at times – struck into the heart of the country's largest metropolitan centers. From 2017 onward, the fighting moved into rural areas of Turkiye's southeast.

As the Turkish military pushed more militants out of Turkiye, by 2019 the conflict's concentration shifted to northern Iraq and northern Syria.

The Turkish army has established several military bases at strategic points in the Matin mountain range in Iraqi Kurdistan, citing the expulsion of Kurdistan Workers' Party militants as justification.

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