The Turkish military carried out airstrikes targeting the PKK terrorist group's positions, including training camps, shelters and ammunition storage, in northern Iraq and parts of northern Syria, Turkey's National Defense Ministry announced early Wednesday.
A Turkish Defense Ministry statement said the strikes hit targets in the Sinjar Mountains and in the Karacak region in northern Iraq, and the Derik region in northern Syria during a new aerial operation aimed to protect Turkey’s borders from terrorist threats.
Operation Winter Eagle targeted the PKK in northern Iraq and its Syrian branch YPG in Syria. The targets struck included shelters, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots, bases and training camps, the ministry said.
"Terrorists' shelters, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots and so-called headquarters and training camps were targeted," the ministry statement said, without specifying exactly when the strikes occurred. It said the air operation targeted PKK terrorists, which have bases in Iraq, as well as YPG terrorists.
Operation Winter Eagle was launched in accordance with international law, Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and United Nations Security Council resolutions on the fight against terrorism, the ministry added.
Efforts to fight against terrorism for the security of the country and nation will decisively continue "until the last terrorist is neutralized," the statement noted.
VIDEO — Footage shows moments Turkish warplanes struck PKK positions in Iraq, killing several terroristspic.twitter.com/IRjtNqoKd6— DAILY SABAH (@DailySabah) February 1, 2022
The strikes aimed to “eliminate terrorist attacks against our people and security forces from the north of Iraq and Syria and to ensure our border security,” the ministry statement read.
All planes returned to their bases safely, the ministry said. It did not provide any information concerning any casualties from the strikes but said “utmost sensitivity was shown” regarding the security of the civilians during the operations.
"Only terrorists and targets belonging to terrorists were hit. The terrorists' shelters, bunkers, inns and caves were brought down on their heads. The terrorists have once again felt the breath of the Turkish Armed Forces on their necks," Akar said.
The minister said many wanted terrorists, including senior figures, were killed in the operation.
Referring to the operation, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also said on Twitter that the country's strategy of eradicating terrorism at its source has made great contributions to border security, territorial integrity and national unity.
The airstrikes are part of an ongoing Turkish campaign in Iraq and Syria against PKK terrorists and its Syrian branch YPG. Turkish forces have carried out similar cross-border airstrikes in the past and routinely conduct military strikes against suspected PKK hideouts in the area.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has pledged to "clean up" parts of northern Iraq, accuses the PKK of using the mountainous border area as a springboard for its insurgency.
In December, Turkey carried out retaliatory airstrikes in northern Iraq after three Turkish soldiers died in a PKK attack.
Viewed as a "terrorist" group by Turkey and its Western allies after a decadeslong insurgency against the Turkish state, the PKK has bases and training camps in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq and on the mountainous border with Turkey.
The Sinjar Mountain range, home to Iraq's Yazidi minority, is an area controlled variously by different armed forces and armed groups where PKK terrorists and their local allies operate.
Turkey also has a military presence in neighboring Syria, where it has seized swathes of territory in successive military operations since 2016.
Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terrorism operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and to enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Washington's support for its Syrian affiliate has been a major strain on bilateral relations with Ankara. The U.S. primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria in its fight against the Daesh terrorist group. On the other hand, Turkey strongly opposed the YPG's presence in northern Syria. Ankara has long objected to the U.S.' support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Turkey and that 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. Underlining that one cannot support one terrorist group to defeat 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.