Turkish media outlets reported on Tuesday that special military units have entered into northern Iraq to pursue groups of militants belonging to the outlawed PKK, following recent deadly attacks against security forces by the organisation.
The PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, NATO, and the EU.
The media reports have said, based on reports from military sources, that two battalions of special forces and eight gendarme special operations teams have been sent by the Turkish Army into Iraq after the PKK attacked an army convoy heading from the village of Daglica in the direction of Kamisli-Yuksekova by using Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) in Turkey’s east.
The Turkish General Staff announced on Monday that sixteen Turkish soldiers stationed with the Daglica battalion in the Yuksekova district in Turkey’s eastern province of Hakkari were killed and six wounded in a PKK terror attack on September 6.
The battalion is stationed along the Turkish border with Iran and has been attacked numerous times in the past. Turkish media outlets reported that Lieutenant Colonel Ilker Celikcan, who was the commanding officer of the battalion, was also among those from the battalion reported killed.
The PKK on Tuesday morning also attacked a police bus in Turkey’s eastern province of Igdir, killing 13 Turkish policemen, Turkish media reported.
Turkish commando units have landed in a deep valley close to the Daglica area where security forces have engaged with the PKK terrorists following their attack against the battalion’s troops.
During non-stop operations continuing for two days, the security forces have killed more than 50 PKK terrorists in clashes taking place at the valley, according to media reports.
A 230-strong force of two battalions of Turkish special forces troops has crossed the border into Iraq following the clashes in the valley and fought with PKK groups.
AFP reported that “Turkish security forces crossed the Iraqi border as part of the hot pursuit of PKK terrorists who were involved in the most recent attacks,” citing to an anonymous government source.
“This is a short-term measure intended to prevent the terrorists' escape,” the source added, according to AFP.
Turkish air forces have also launched against the PKK targets with F-16 and F-4 jets in northern Iraq, hitting the Qandil, Hakurk, Avasin, Metina, Basyan, Gare, and Zap camps of the PKK from Monday night to Tuesday morning. The air attacks have been coordinated by special forces taking part in the cross-border operation, Turkish media reported.
More than 100 PKK terrorists have been killed during ground and air operations against the PKK groups, military sources have announced.
Turkish media reports previously said the Turkish government is planning to undertake a large-scale cross-border operation into northern Iraq against the outlawed PKK camps and militants following the numerous attacks carried out by the group throughout the country.
Turkey launched its most recent previous cross-border operation in northern Iraq in October 2011 after clashes between the PKK and the Turkish Army reached a high point of intensity.
At the beginning of 2013, the then-governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) announced a peace initiative called the “Resolution Process” and the PKK seemed responsive under the instructions of its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan until July 2015.
PKK terrorists have carried out several attacks against Turkish security forces since the Suruc suicide bombing in Turkey’s southeastern Sanliurfa province, widely thought to have been carried out by ISIS on July 20.
More than 100 Turkish security officials have been killed in militant attacks by the PKK and ISIS since the bombing.
In response to the PKK and ISIS attacks, Turkish security forces have reportedly stepped up their efforts against the militant groups and killed more than eight hundred PKK terrorists.
Alongside domestic operations and air strikes, the security forces have targeted PKK camps and teams in northern Iraq as well as several positions used by ISIS in northern Syria since late July.
Turkey has long been confronted with armed attacks in its southeastern regions by the PKK, which was founded in 1974 by Ocalan and his supporters.
Armed clashes between the group and security forces and acts of violence by the group have continued on and off for more than 30 years, and claimed more than 40,000 lives.