Two Turkish soldiers taking part in Operation Claw were killed in clashes with PKK terrorists in northern Iraq, Turkey's Defense Ministry said Thursday.
"Drowned in sadness, we wish Allah's mercy upon our martyrs, and extend our condolences to their families, the Turkish Armed Forces, and our noble nation," the ministry said, adding that the cross-border operation, supported by the Turkish Air Forces, will continue.
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 base. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) also carries out cross-border operations in northern Iraq where PKK terrorists have hideouts and bases that they use to carry out attacks on Turkey.
Turkey's counterterrorism operations intensified after July 2018 and have become routine since the beginning of another extensive campaign, Operation Claw, which was launched on May 27 and aimed to entirely 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 Claw-1. As in the first, the second phase of the operation also included deployments to northern Iraq's Hakurk region and aimed to continue to destroy weapon placements and shelters used by PKK terrorists.
Operation Claw-3, the third phase of the original operation, was initiated on Aug. 23 in the Sinat-Haftanin region of northern Iraq. The operation was launched to facilitate border security, eliminate the presence of terrorists, and destroy terrorist caves and shelters in the region.
The number of terrorists in the country has declined to nearly 500 for the first time due to effective anti-terror operations and strategies, the Interior Ministry announced last month.
Over the course of 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 some 40,000 people, including women and children.