Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq killed 13 Turkish civilians when military operations began against the group last week, the Turkish military chief said.
According to Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Turkish Armed Forces have completed a military operation in the region with 48 Kurdish fighters and three Turkish soldiers killed during three days of clashes.
In a press conference on Sunday, Akar said that those of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) who were killed included three senior members of the armed group and two militants were captured alive. Three Turkish soldiers were also wounded in the operation.
Turkey launched the Claw-Eagle 2 mission on Wednesday against PKK fighters who are hiding in the northern Iraqi region of Gara.
Akar said Turkish civilians recently kidnapped by the PKK were found dead in one of the group’s hiding places captured by Turkish forces during the offensive.
“When searching for a cave that was brought under control, the bodies of 13 of our abducted citizens were found. An initial inspection found that 12 of our innocent and unarmed citizens were shot in the head and tortured and one shot in the shoulder and tortured, ”Akar said.
“According to initial information from two terrorists captured alive, our citizens were tortured by the terrorist responsible for the cave at the beginning of the operation,” he said at the operation’s control center near the Iraqi border, which he visited with military officials.
The PKK made no statement about the incident or the fighting.
The Kurdish armed group, listed by Turkey and a large part of the international community as a “terrorist” organization, has been using the mountainous regions of Iraq as a springboard for their uprising against the Turkish state for decades.
The Turkish army regularly conducts cross-border operations and air strikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq. Ankara started the Claw Eagle Offensive for the first time in June 2020.
Akar said Turkey initiated the latest mission through its right of self-defense to prevent the PKK from trying to reestablish positions on the Iraqi side of the border.
“The operation has been completed. Our land and air elements returned safely to their bases and barracks, ”he said.
According to the Minister of Defense, more than 50 PKK targets – including ammunition depots, caves and bases in Gara – were destroyed during the election campaign.
Last month Akar visited the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and northern Iraq, where he said Turkey intends to eradicate PKK attacks in the region in order to ensure border security and regional peace.
It is estimated that PKK attacks have killed tens of thousands of people since they first started in 1984.