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Turkish forces killed 8 Kurdish militants in Syria, Iraq: ministry

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The Turkish military has “neutralized” six Kurdish militants in Syria and two in Iraq, the defense ministry said Saturday on X, formerly Twitter.

The Turkish airforce carried out airstrikes in northern Iraq on Friday evening, destroying 16 Kurdish militant targets, the defense ministry said.

The ministry explained that the targets attacked were caves, bunkers and storage rooms where the militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were believed to be. The target of the attacks were the regions of Hakurk, Gara, Qandil and Metina in northern Iraq.

On Sunday PKK militants killed three Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq in an area where Turkish forces are deployed as part of Operation Claw-Lock, an air and ground offensive that targets hideouts of the PKK in the Metina region of Iraq that was launched in April 2022.

The ministry said in another tweet that Turkish forces seized a large cache of ammunition and materials from terrorists during search operations in the Claw-Lock Operation area, including weapons, night vision devices, explosives and various communication and surveillance equipment.

The PKK, which has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984, is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

In October Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledged to “intensify” Turkey’s airstrikes in Syria and Iraq targeting fighters from the PKK and Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. Ankara considers the YPG to be a PKK-affiliated terrorist group.

The announcement followed an October 1 suicide attack that injured two policemen in Ankara. The attack was claimed by the PKK.

However, Turkey said the attackers came from Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the YPG spearheads, denied this. Since the suicide attack, Ankara has launched a barrage of airstrikes and attacks against militant targets in northern Syria and Iraq while ramping up security operations at home.

Turkey lists the YPG as a terrorist organization and says it is indistinguishable from the PKK, which has fought an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.

The United States and European Union deem the PKK a terrorist organization, but not the YPG.

The YPG is at the heart of the SDF forces in the US-led coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants. US support for them has long caused tension with Turkey.

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