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TURKEY’S anticipated invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan began on Sunday night with helicopters, drones and jets pummelling Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) positions in the Metina mountain range.
Defence Minister Hulusi Akar announced Operation Claw Lock as the latest phase of Ankara’s military intervention against the Kurdish resistance group, saying that all initial targets had been achieved.
Shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots and headquarters belonging to the PKK had been struck, he claimed, with commandos entering the region “by infiltration by land.”
Mr Akar added: “Our struggle will continue until the last terrorist is neutralised.”
The Defence Ministry said that the invasion was being carried out in co-ordination with “friends and allies,” without elaborating.
Nonetheless, Turkish forces have faced fierce resistance on the ground.
According to PKK sources, at least eight Turkish soldiers were killed overnight, while efforts to land troops in the Brindaran cave in the Zap mountain range were repelled.
In a statement, the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), an umbrella group that includes the PKK, warned that the new offensive posed “a grave threat to the entire region and unity among Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan.”
The operation was predicted by PKK intelligence, which warned in March that a Turkish invasion was planned for April 15 with the support of the regionally dominant Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
Last Friday, Iraqi Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul and it is believed that they discussed the invasion plans.
Mr Barzani was also asked to facilitate talks between Turkey and Iraq over a deal for the export of natural gas.
Intelligence sources told the Morning Star that the KDP-allied Zerevani armed forces had urged the PKK to relinquish their positions and allow them to take over.
The guerillas refused to give up their bases, believing the request to be part of a Turkish plot.
Emergency demonstrations were held across Europe urging the international community to break its silence over Turkey’s war on Kurds.
“If the world continues to turn a blind eye to Erdogan’s aggression, we will see increased bloodshed, displacement and instability throughout Kurdistan and the Middle East,” a KNK statement said.
“We call on all governments and international organisations, including the UN, Nato, the EU, the Council of Europe and the Arab League, to take urgent action against this violation of international law, to unambiguously condemn this crime of aggression and to demand that Turkey withdraws its troops from south Kurdistan.
“We call on political parties, human rights organisations, organisations for peace, trade unionists and activists to oppose this Turkish aggression and occupation.”
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