Erdogan vows to intensify strikes on Kurd fighters in Iraq, Syria

Airstrikes have surged since Turkey launched 'Operation Claw-Lock' in April last year

By AFP

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Photo: Reuters file
Photo: Reuters file

Published: Wed 11 Oct 2023, 2:49 PM

Turkey's president on Wednesday vowed to intensify strikes against Kurdish fighters in Syria and Iraq.

"We have already intensified air operations and we will continue, and show the terrorists that we can destroy them anywhere and at any moment," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, referring to fighters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.


Airstrikes have surged since Turkey launched 'Operation Claw-Lock' in April last year. The aim, the Turkish Defence Ministry says, is to protect Turkey's borders and "neutralise terrorism and terrorists at source." Earlier this month, Turkey unleashed air strikes on militant targets in northern Iraq and Syria after the PKK said it was behind a bomb attack near government buildings in Ankara, in which two police officers were injured.

Northern Iraq is the base of the PKK, which over decades has carried out many deadly attacks in Turkey and is labelled a terrorist organisation by the United States and European Union.


Turkish operations in Syria target the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a militia that Ankara says is a PKK-affiliated terrorist group. The YPG is part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US ally against Daesh.

Turkey's Defence Ministry said in a statement to Reuters that all of its operations fall "within the framework of international law, respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all our neighbours."

"In the planning and execution of the operations, only terrorists and their positions, warehouses and shelters are targeted, and the utmost care and sensitivity is shown to prevent harm to civilians and to prevent damage to infrastructure and cultural sites."

Any claims to the contrary "are unfounded, slanderous, and lies," the statement said.

Reuters could not reach the PKK. The Syrian Democratic Forces said Turkish strikes in Syria are unjustified. A YPG spokesperson said its forces "did not fire a single shot in the direction of the Turkish state."

Reuters analysed violent incidents recorded by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a global research organisation that collects reports from media outlets, government reports, non-governmental groups and other sources.

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