Six PKK terrorists killed on Friday in northern Iraq have been identified as the so-called "intelligence heads" of the group, the Defense Ministry announced Saturday. The terrorists were targeted in a Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) joint operation in northern Iraq's Gara, the ministry said on Twitter.
Turkish fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) also took part in the operation, it added.
"[Counterterrorism] Operations will continue at an increased pace and intensity until the last terrorist is neutralized," the ministry said.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Meanwhile, another 17 PKK terrorists were killed in Turkish airstrikes in northern Iraq, the Defense Ministry also announced Saturday.
The operations targeted Zap, Gara and Avasin regions, the ministry said on Twitter. The latest counterterrorism operations killed 51 terrorists over the week.
Turkish security forces regularly conduct counterterrorism operations in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Turkey where the PKK has attempted to establish a strong presence and bases. The TSK also carries out cross-border operations in northern Iraq, a region where PKK terrorists have hideouts and bases from which to carry out attacks on Turkey.
The operations were intensified after July 2018 and became routine since the beginning of another extensive campaign, Operation Claw, which was launched on May 27 to eliminate the presence of the terrorist organization in northern Iraq. On July 13, the TSK launched Operation Claw-2 as a follow-up to the successful first operation.
Like the first phase, the second operation also targeted northern Iraq's Hakurk region and aimed to continue to destroy PKK weapon placements and shelters.
Operation Claw-3, which is the follow-up of the previous two, was initiated on Aug. 23 in the Sinat-Haftanin region in northern Iraq. The operation was launched to facilitate border security, eliminate the terrorist presence and destroy terrorist caves and shelters in the region. Over 400 PKK terrorists have been neutralized in northern Iraq over the past four months, according to the ministry. In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women and children.
2 PKK terrorists killed in eastern Turkey
In addition to cross-border anti-terrorism operations, Turkish security forces killed two terrorists in the eastern Tunceli province as part of efforts to ensure domestic security, the Interior Ministry said Saturday. The terrorists were targeted in a joint operation of the provincial Gendarmerie Command and the MİT in the Pulumur district. Operations in the region are ongoing, the ministry statement added. The Interior Ministry later announced that among the terrorists was Ayten Ene – code-named "Çiçek Kurtalan" – who was in the red category of Interior Ministry's Most Wanted Terrorists list.
Mehdi Kaplan – the other terrorist killed – code-named "Dilges," was in the gray category.
The wanted list is divided into five color-coded categories, with red marking the most wanted, followed by blue, green, orange and gray, depending on the level of threat they pose to national security.