Turkey says it has ‘neutralized’ 43 Kurdish militants in northern Iraq

Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar speaks with an officer as Turkish army's top commanders stand behind at Turkey-Iraq border near Hakkari, Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (AP)
Updated 08 June 2019

Turkey says it has ‘neutralized’ 43 Kurdish militants in northern Iraq

  • The Turkish military launched what it dubbed “Operation Claw” in northern Iraq’s Hakurk region, on May 27 with artillery and air strikes followed by operations by commando brigades
  • The PKK militant group is based in northern Iraq, notably in the Qandil region to the south of Hakurk

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday a total of 43 members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) had been “neutralized” so far as part of an operation Ankara launched in northern Iraq 13 days ago.
The Turkish military launched what it dubbed “Operation Claw” in northern Iraq’s Hakurk region, on May 27 with artillery and air strikes followed by operations by commando brigades.
The PKK militant group is based in northern Iraq, notably in the Qandil region to the south of Hakurk. Ankara said the operation aimed to destroy shelters and caves used by the PKK and “neutralize” its members — a term it commonly uses to refer to deaths, but also to those wounded or captured.
“43 PKK terrorists have been neutralized as part of Operation Claw, which has continued successfully for 13 days in the Hakurk region of northern Iraq,” the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
It said 53 mines and improvised explosive devices had been destroyed and 74 caves and shelters used by the PKK were made unusable, adding that it had also seized weapons and ammunition belonging to the militants.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said the operation would continue in the region until “the last terrorist is neutralized.”
The PKK insurgency in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey began in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict. It is designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the European Union and United States.
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third largest in parliament, has said such operations created crises and that tens of similar operations in the past had not created a solution.
Separately, two PKK members, one of whom was on Turkey’s wanted list, were “neutralized” in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakir province, the Interior Ministry said.
Another PKK member was arrested in Diyarbakir at a traffic checkpoint, the local gendarmarie said.


Pope backs Iraqi call for its sovereignty to be respected

Updated 58 min 37 sec ago

Pope backs Iraqi call for its sovereignty to be respected

  • President Barham Salih held private talks for about 30 minutes with the pope and then met the Vatican’s two top diplomats
  • The recent tensions in Iraq could make it impossible for Francis to visit the country, which he has said he would like to do this year

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis met Iraq’s president on Saturday and the two agreed that the country’s sovereignty must be respected, following attacks on Iraqi territory this month by the United States and Iran.
President Barham Salih held private talks for about 30 minutes with the pope and then met the Vatican’s two top diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, its foreign minister.
The talks “focused on the challenges the country currently faces and on the importance of promoting stability and the reconstruction process, encouraging the path of dialogue and the search for suitable solutions in favor of citizens and with respect for national sovereignty,” a Vatican statement said.
On Jan. 8, Iranian forces fired missiles at two military bases in Iraq housing US troops in retaliation for Washington’s killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike a Baghdad airport on Jan. 3.
The Iraqi parliament has passed a resolution ordering the 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq to leave the country.
Soon after the Iranian attack, Francis urged the United States and Iran to avoid escalation and pursue “dialogue and self-restraint” to avert a wider conflict in the Middle East.
The pope discussed the Middle East with US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday.
The recent tensions in Iraq could make it impossible for Francis to visit the country, which he has said he would like to do this year.
The Vatican said the pope and Salih also discussed “the importance of preserving the historical presence of Christians in the country.”
The Christian presence in Iraq and some other countries in the Middle East has been depleted by wars and conflicts.
Iraq’s several hundred thousand Christians suffered particular hardships when Daesh controlled large parts of the country, but have recovered.