Turkey’s military has launched an operation with commandos, backed by artillery and airstrikes, against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in a mountainous area of northern Iraq, the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tweeted on Tuesday that he wishes success to Turkish soldiers in the “challenging” operation across the border.
The military action began with artillery and airstrikes on Monday afternoon, and the operation by commandos began at 8 p.m. to “neutralize terrorists and destroy their shelters,” according to a ministry statement.
It said the operation targeted Iraq’s Hakurk region, just across the border from Turkey’s southeastern tip, which also borders Iran. The PKK is based in northern Iraq, notably in the Qandil region to the south of Hakurk.
Video published by the ministry showed helicopters landing commandos in mountainous terrain. It also shared photos of shells fired by mortars and soldiers on ridges surveying the area with rifles.
“The operation, with the support of our attack helicopters, is continuing as planned,” the statement said. The military frequently launches airstrikes against PKK targets in northern Iraq, but ground operations are less common.
The PKK launched a bloody campaign in mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey 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 the United States.