At least five soldiers and 10 rebels have died during intensified fighting in southeastern Turkey in the past 48 hours. The two sides traded roadside bombings and airstrikes, as both sides dig in for a prolonged fight.
Fighting in southeast Turkey is intensifying as both the Turkish army and rebel Kurdish fighters claimed deadly attacks on Wednesday.
Kurdish militants killed four Turkish soldiers and injured nine more – four of them seriously – when a roadside bomb exploded as their military convoy drove past.
The attack by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) occurred in southeast Turkey, near the Iraqi border. The Turkish army is responding with additional ground troops backed by helicopters to the area.
Shortly after news of the PKK attack, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported that Turkish fighter jets had killed 10 Kurdish rebels. Citing a military source, the Anadolu Agency reported Wednesday afternoon that the air strike occurred on Monday.
It is unclear why news of the Turkish attack took two days to filter out.
Deadly attacks in Hakkari province
Both attacks occurred in the southeastern province of Hakkari. The PKK attack on the Turkish soldiers occurred 45 miles (70 km) from the town of Semdinli, near the Iraqi border. It’s unclear where, exactly, the Turkish attack on the Kurdish rebels occurred.
Another statement put out by the Turkish army claims that its warplanes bombed arms depots, shelters and caves used by PKK rebels in the Daglica region in Hakkari province, as well as in northern Iraq.
Earlier in the day PKK rebels killed another Turkish soldier in the town of Nusaybin, near the Syrian border – 310 miles (500 km) away. The city of 100,000 people has been under a round-the-clock curfew for more than two months as security forces battle militants.
Turkey’s army has been battling the PKK in the southeast of the country since the collapse of a 2-year-old ceasefire in July 2015. The renewed fighting has claimed thousands of lives, including 450 Turkish soldiers.
Despite the high death toll suffered by security forces, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed no let up in the attacks.
The Turkish air force has also been launching frequent attacks on PKK positions in the mountainous region of northern Iraq, where the rebels have camps near the Turkish border.
The PKK has been waging an armed struggle against Turkey for more autonomy, if not outright independence, for more than 30 years. More than 40,000 people have been killed in one of Europe’s longest running insurgencies, which began in 1984.
bik/bw (Reuters, AP, AFP)