Above: Turks Soldier Chasing Kurds
The Turkish General Staff reports that Kurdish Kurdistan Workers Party guerrillas killed in recent battles is now up to 79 after just two days since taking the fighting to the mountains. Their troops (pictured above patrolling the snowy mountains) killed 35 rebels in Northern Iraq Saturday. The offensive was backed up by warplanes, artillery and combat helicopters. They also report losing 7 of their troops in battle.
This war between Turkish troops and the Kurdistan Workers Party, who are fighting to create a Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey, has been going on for decades and has already spilled over to neighboring Iraq. The Kurdistan Workers Party is declared as a terrorist group by the international community.
Turkey says it was forced to cross borders after the Iraqi government failed to block an estimated 3,000 Kurdistan Workers Party soldiers from entering Northern Iraq. The Kurdistan Workers Party was planning on using the mountainous region as a base for staging attacks against Turkey.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari had already warned the Turkish government against any further military operation towards the Kurdistan Workers Party guerrillas in their country. The Iraqi government wants the operations to end immediately. They had not approved the Turkish operation since they believe that further battles will add more conflict to the already fragile region. “This is a limited military incursion into a remote, isolated and uninhabited region. But if it goes on, I think it could destabilise the region because really one mistake could lead to further escalation,” he said.
The Kurdish leaders of Northern Iraq vowed strong opposition if their civilians are compromised in the battles. “Any attack on any citizen in Kurdistan or populated areas will be answered with massive resistance … and all preparations have been made in this matter,” says a statement from the Kurdish Regional Government.