Turkey’s operation in Qandil a matter of time, interior minister says

Published 04.06.2018 12:57
Updated 04.06.2018 19:40
emEPA Photo/em
EPA Photo

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Monday said Turkey could soon launch an anti-terror operation in Iraq's Qandil Mountains, where the PKK's headquarters are located.

"It is not a matter of operation, but a matter of timing," Soylu said. "Qandil is no longer a faraway goal for us."

According to the minister, several strategic points have already been seized along the Hakurk line.

Soylu stressed that Qandil will become a safe place for Turkey, adding that "no one should worry."

Government Spokesperson and Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also said later Monday that Turkey had the right to carry out operations against PKK terrorists in northern Iraq's Qandil region, and will do so any time it deems necessary.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry said some 30 terrorists, including three so-called PKK leaders, were "neutralized" during counter-terrorism operations across Turkey in the past week, the Interior Ministry said Monday.

In a statement, the ministry said the Turkish Armed Forces carried out 1,419 counterterrorism operations between May 28 and June 4 with the assistance of land and air forces.

Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

The Qandil Mountains, located roughly 40 kilometers southeast of the Turkish border in Iraq's Irbil province, are being used as the headquarters of the PKK and its Iranian affiliate, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), although the area is under de jure control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The area has frequently been hit by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in the last decade.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU. It has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years during which more than 40,000 people have been killed.

More than 1,200 people, including security force personnel and civilians, have lost their lives since the PKK resumed its decadesold armed campaign in July 2015.

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