Turkey launches new cross-border operation in northern Iraq
Turkey has launched a new cross-border operation, strengthened air and special forces elements against terror groups' hideouts in northern Iraq, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced on Monday.
The military action was part of a long-running Turkish campaign in Iraq and Syria against militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. Both are regarded as terrorist groups by Ankara.
The operation focused on the Iraqi regions of Metina, Zap, and Avasin-Basyan, the ministry said in a statement. Alongside the air operation, commandos and special forces also participated, both by land and air.
"Until now, our operation is continuing successfully as planned," the state-owned Anadolu news agency quoted Defence Minister Hulusi Akar as saying. "The targets identified in the first phase have been captured."
No information on casualties resulting from the operation was given. The ministry added that the action, called "Operation Claw Lock," aimed to "prevent terror attacks" and ensure border security following an assessment that the PKK was planning a large-scale attack.
Artillery was also fired on militant targets in the military action. There was no immediate statement from the Kurdish militant group. Turkey regularly conducts cross-border operations on PKK bases in northern Iraq.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for over 30 years, which has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people.
(With input from agencies)
(Cover: Iraqi army soldier stands next to the graffiti of the Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK, December 4, 2020. /AP)