The Turkish Air Force (THK) conducted dozens of airstrikes with around 40 fighter jets on camps and hideouts of the terrorist PKK in Northern Iraq and Turkey's southeast on Monday night, the Turkish military said yesterday. Government officials say that in order to return to the reconciliation process, the PKK should first lay down arms. According to a statement on the General Staff's official website, THK jets bombed PKK positions in Metina, Zap, Avasin-Basyan, Hakkurk, Gara and Qandil in Northern Iraq as well as in Turkey's southeastern border province of Hakkari.
Several shelters, underground coves and weapon emplacements used by the PKK were destroyed in the airstrikes. Meanwhile, security forces seized 300 bullets for Russian-made DShK heavy machine guns, which can also be used as an anti-aircraft gun, in a PKK shelter during a search in the southeastern province of Şırnak. Since the terrorist organization PKK broke the almost three-year cease-fire in July, military operations have cost the group over 2,000 militants. Prior to Sunday's election, both Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan assured that the state is determined in its fight with the PKK until it announces the long-awaited disarmament and withdraws its militants from Turkey.
Frustrated with the PKK's activities like digging ditches, using civilians as human shields, detonating bombs, suicide bombings and kidnapping children to recruit to the organization, around 1 million people who voted for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) on June 7 shifted their support to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which received 49.4 percent of the vote on Nov. 1.
Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan said conditions were not yet ripe to revive reconciliation talks.
"For us to say the reconciliation process has [re]started, the factors poisoning this process should be removed," he said in a televised interview with NTV. Akdoğan, however, declined to give a direct answer when asked if the state would start talking with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, saying certain conditions must be fulfilled. "The PKK's departure from Turkey, a state of inactivity in the full sense ... only after that can other issues be discussed."
According to a statement on the General Staff's official website, THK jets bombed PKK positions in Metina, Zap, Avasin-Basyan, Hakkurk, Gara and Qandil in Northern Iraq as well as in Turkey's southeastern border province of Hakkari.
An ISIS terrorist was also caught and taken into custody on Monday while trying to illegally cross into Turkey from Syria.
Turkish security forces have responded to renewed PKK attacks in the southeast by launching airstrikes on PKK bases in Northern Iraq and the Army has sent ground troops across the border, killing around 2,000 terrorists.
In early September, two units of its special forces with 230 troops into Northern Iraq for the first time in more than two years to pursue PKK terrorists across the border, a military source said. Davutoğlu had said earlier that a full scale ground operation against the PKK in Northern Iraq would be launched "if necessary."
The pro-Kurdish HDP suffered a major setback in Sunday's elections and lost significant support in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces. While the party passed the 10 percent national election threshold in the June 7 elections with 13.1 percent, the party barely passed it this time with 10.7 percent. The HDP's 80 deputies would have remained in Parliament if a coalition had been formed after June 7, but now the party has 59 deputies.
The HDP has been criticized for failing to distance itself from the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU.
During an election rally in May, HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş said the HDP would persuade the PKK to demilitarize, rather than the AK Party. However, after the elections, he could not keep the promise and said it was impossible for the PKK to lay down arms. "There is no chance that this will happen," Demirtaş said, adding that the government should instead say: "We are ready to halt all operations, and the PKK should also silence its weapons. We are ready for a mutual cease-fire." In addition to taking pressure off the PKK to give up its weapons, HDP officials even praised the terrorist organization's activities.
In July, HDP Deputy Co-Chair Pervin Buldan said the PKK "is not a terrorist organization," sparking immediate outrage on social media. In August she paid a visit to the family of a PKK terrorist killed by security forces in the Lice district of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. She tweeted a photo from his commemoration with a note that read: "We are attending the commemoration of Şoreşger who was martyred in Lice." Ziya Çalışkan, an HDP deputy from Şanlıurfa also attended terrorist funerals. HDP spokesman and İzmir deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü said in a live broadcast on the BBC on Aug. 6 that PKK terror attacks on Turkish security forces are not "a matter of condemnation." HDP Co-Chair Figen Yüksekdağ praised the PKK and referred to it as "a national liberation movement and also an organization that stands for democracy and equality."