Interior Minister Efkan Ala said on Friday that the PKK presence in cities has been notably degraded by counterterrorism operations and that the next step is to root out their presence in rural areas. Speaking at the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Ala said: "Large operations are being carried out for the first time. The power of the terrorist organization in rural areas will be hit in operations in mountains and lowlands." Emphasizing that the power of the PKK has declined in urban areas, Ala added: "After de-terrorizing the districts of Sur, Cizre, Silopi, Yüksekova and İdil, we have now launched a large scale operation in Lice in southeastern Diyarbakır province. The operation continues with the destruction of PKK logistic material and cannabis fields, seriously hurting the terrorist organization." Drawing attention to air operations on PKK logistic spots in Turkey and operations in Northern Iraq's Qandil Mountains where the organization is headquartered, Ala said that next phase of the operation is to destroy the logistic spots in rural areas and clean these areas of all the organization's militants.
Last week, the PKK and Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) – an umbrella network that includes the PKK – reportedly decided to move from the Qandil Mountains, which has been the organization's headquarters for many years, as a result of the Turkish Armed Forces' (TSK) continuous counterterrorism operations. Turkish media reported that the PKK has formed an alliance with the Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces militia to move to the Sulaymaniyah-Halabja line.
The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU, resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015.