The Turkish military eliminated seven more PKK terrorists, including a senior figure, in counterterrorism operations in northern Iraq, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Monday.
Speaking at the Eskişehir Combatant Air Forces Command, Akar said security forces killed seven terrorists in Operation Claw-Lightning and Claw-Thunderbolt.
One of the terrorists killed in the cave was the alleged regional leader in the Keri area, said the minister, adding that no Turkish soldiers were injured in the operation.
Akar noted that 53 terrorists have been killed in operations with the recent raids.
Applauding the security forces' dedication and determination, Akar said the forces have been carrying out operations in mountains and regions difficult to navigate, where even helicopters are unable to land.
Akar noted the success of the Turkish air forces despite certain "allied" countries continuing to provide rockets to PKK terrorists.
“Sixteen weapons and 3,000 ammunition have been confiscated so far. There are two remote-controlled DShK,” Akar said, referring to the Russian-made heavy machine guns intended for close anti-aircraft combat.
Russia and the U.S. have provided weapons to the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist group.
He noted that the DShK give the terrorists places to hide during Turkish air forces strikes. They also own designated marksman rifles, PK machine guns, RPG-7 rocket launchers, M16s and Kalashnikovs.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) launched a large-scale military operation against terrorists in northern Iraq on April 23.
Many PKK terrorist hideouts and bases are located in northern Iraq from where they carry out attacks on Turkey.
The TSK regularly conducts cross-border operations in northern Iraq. Turkey has long been stressing that it will not tolerate terrorist threats posed against its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorist group. Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps were not taken, it would not shy from targeting terrorist threats.
The U.S. has primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria in the anti-Daesh fight. On the other hand, Turkey strongly opposed the terrorist group’s presence in northern Syria, which has been a major sticking point in strained Turkey-U.S. relations. Ankara has long objected to the U.S.' support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Turkey and terrorizes local people, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee.
Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the U.S. has provided military training and given truckloads of military support to the YPG, despite its NATO ally’s security concerns. While underlining that a country cannot support one terrorist group to fight another, Turkey conducted its own counterterrorism operations, over the course of which it has managed to remove a significant number of terrorists from the region.
The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than four decades and has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children.