As part of Operation Claw-Tiger, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have destroyed more than 500 PKK targets in northern Iraq's Haftanin region.
According to security sources on Thursday, in the first 36 hours of the operation, Turkish forces hit over 500 targets of the PKK terror group in the region with F-16 jets, howitzers and multiple rockets.
PKK terrorists often use northern Iraq as a base to plan cross-border attacks on Turkey.
Following the strikes, Turkish commandos conducted an infiltration operation through land and air to target terrorist hideouts.
National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar addressed the commanders of the troops via video link, saying, "Operation Claw-Tiger is going very well."
"We will continue with the same seriousness and determination and hopefully we will successfully end this operation," Akar said.
The Defense Ministry said during the operation, PKK mines and improvised explosive devices (IED) in the region were destroyed. The ministry also said on Twitter that Turkey's "Hero Commandos" continue "to neutralize mines and IEDs laid by terrorists while fleeing," along with a nearly two-minute video showing Turkish soldiers destroying the deadly explosives.
The Defense Ministry also shared images late Wednesday of Turkish-made helicopters targeting the PKK in the Haftanin region. They are helping to clear areas of terrorists as part of Operation Claw-Tiger, the ministry said on Twitter.
The ministry also shared images of rocket-launchers and howitzers targeting terrorist shelters, adding that PKK positions are being destroyed.
Amid ongoing cross-border anti-terror operations, Baghdad Thursday demanded that Ankara halt its operation in northern Iraq saying: “We stress that Turkey must stop its bombardment and withdraw its attacking forces from Iraqi territory.” The statement follows Iraq's summoning of Turkey's Baghdad envoy Fatih Yıldız on Tuesday.
The ambassador tweeted he had informed Iraqi officials that Turkey would "fight the PKK wherever it is" if Iraq did not "take any steps" to remove the PKK's presence.
On Monday, the ministry announced the start of Operation Claw-Eagle in northern Iraq, noting that Turkish fighter jets had destroyed caves where terrorists were taking shelter. The mission was carried out against bases in Sinjar, Qandil, Karacak, Zap, Avasin-Basyan and Hakurk.
Operation Claw-Tiger was initiated a few days after Operation Claw-Eagle, which was launched in order to ensure the security of the Turkish people and the country's borders by eliminating the PKK and other terrorist organizations that have been stepping up their harassment and attack attempts against military bases and the police.
The PKK terrorist group managed to establish a foothold in Sinjar in mid-2014, on the pretext that it was protecting the local Yazidi community from Daesh. Since then, the PKK has reportedly established a new base in Sinjar for its logistical and command-and-control activities.
Turkey has long been stressing that it will not tolerate threats posed to its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorists. Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps are not taken, it would not shy away from targeting the group. Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) also previously called the PKK's presence in Sinjar unacceptable and urged the militants to leave the area.
The TSK regularly conducts cross-border operations targetting the PKK's hideouts and bases in northern Iraq, from which they carry out attacks in Turkey.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
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