The Turkish defense minister pledged to fight Kurds in northern Iraq “until the last terrorist is neutralized”
The Turkish military operation in northern Iraq, which was launched on Sunday, has achieved all of its initial objectives, the country’s defense ministry said in a Monday morning update. Ankara is targeting Kurdish militant forces in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The military has reported killing a large number of “terrorists” and destroying many sites associated with them. “As of now, all of the planned targets have been achieved,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
He added that the operation will continue “with determination until the last terrorist is neutralized,” although no projected time frame for that was provided.
The official was monitoring the progress of the incursion alongside the country’s senior military leadership. Turkey launched the military action, dubbed Operation Claw-Lock, on Sunday evening.
According to the Defense Ministry, Turkish forces destroyed shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots, and command posts belonging to those whom Ankara labels as terrorists. Turkish commando forces and artillery were participating in the operation, which also involved multiple air strikes from manned and unmanned aircraft, the report said. Turkey offered no initial casualty assessment.
Turkish officials said the operation is targeting the forces of PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, an ethnic Kurdish militant force that fought against Ankara for decades, as well as the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG. Both are considered terrorist organizations in Turkey.
The Turkish military has conducted a number of cross-border campaigns against Kurdish forces in both Syria and Iraq over the years. The latest operation focused on the Iraqi regions of Metina, Zap, and Avasin-Basyan, according to the Turkish ministry. Ankara claimed its incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan was legitimate under the national self-defense clauses of the UN Charter.
“Our activities are carried out in a way that respects the territorial integrity and sovereign rights of friendly and brotherly Iraq,” the defense minister said.
The official claimed his nation’s armed forces only targeted “terrorist forces” and did everything possible to avoid harm to civilians, cultural and religious sites, and the environment.