Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed that Turkey would press on with a military offensive against fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “until not one terrorist remains”.
The statement came on Tuesday as the military said Turkey carried out air strikes on 17 PKK targets in the southeastern province of Hakkari, ramping up an offensive against the Kurdish armed group.
“We will continue our fight until weapons are laid down … and not one single terrorist remains within our borders,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Ankara.
He added that over two weeks of air strikes against the PKK had already inflicted “serious losses” on the group.
Turkey has been buffeted by increased fighting between its military and the outlawed PKK, which has waged a three-decade war for greater Kurdish autonomy.
“Seventeen targets of the separatist terrorists were hit with precision and neutralised” in the Hakkari province on the border with Iran and Iraq, the army said.
In ground fighting, security sources said the PKK attacked a military station in Sirnak, a province adjacent to Hakkari, and killed one soldier in a 20-minute battle.
One PKK fighter was killed in clashes in Bingol province, the local governor’s office said.
NATO member Turkey started what it called a “synchronised war on terror” last month, attacking the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIL) group in Syria and the PKK in northern Iraq.
Security forces attacked
At least nine people were killed in a wave of attacks on Turkish security forces on Monday, mostly in the southeast.
The outlawed Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, which the government has on occasion linked to the PKK, claimed an attack in Istanbul, and a shooting at the US consulate, which caused no casualties.
A senior police officer in charge of the city’s bomb disposal department was killed in clashes that followed a suicide bombing at a police station on the same day.
While the government blamed the PKK for that attack, it was also claimed by a small leftist group, the People’s Defence Units, on its Twitter feed.
According to a toll by the AFP news agency, 29 members of the security forces have been killed in violence linked to the PKK since the current crisis began.