Operation Claw-Lock, the latest in a counterterrorism campaign by Türkiye, managed to eliminate a large number of terrorists from the PKK, authorities said. Since the cross-border operation started in April 2022, Türkiye stopped a total of 506 terrorists in northern Iraq, the National Defense Ministry announced, as it gave a tour of the counterterrorism operation area to a group of journalists across the Turkish border into Iraq.
Reporters saw terrorist elements being hit from the borderline from a hill at an altitude of approximately 2,050 meters (6,726 feet). In addition, reporters were told that 575 terrorist caves, bunkers and shelters had been destroyed, and over 2,000 mines/handmade explosives, 1,182 weapons and nearly 540,000 pieces of ammunition were seized.
Türkiye launched Operation Claw-Lock last April to target the terrorist group PKK’s hideouts in the Metina, Zap and Avaşin-Başyan regions of northern Iraq, near the Turkish border. Two operations preceded it – Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle – launched in 2020 to root out terrorists hiding north of Iraq and plotting cross-border attacks in Türkiye.
The Turkish army aims to cut off supplies and the operational area for the terrorist group whose leadership hides out in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq. Turkish airstrikes have frequently hit the Qandil area in the last decades, yet, ground operations have been scarce due to immediate security risks. Qandil became the PKK’s main headquarters in the 1990s after it used the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon as training grounds for many years. The first extensive operation against the PKK was carried out in May 1983, when 5,000 Turkish soldiers crossed the Iraq border and advanced 5 kilometers (3.11 miles). After a land operation in the Qandil Mountains to destroy PKK hideouts, they retreated. In the mid-1990s, the operations intensified due to increased PKK attacks and infiltration attempts near border towns that cost hundreds of Turkish soldiers’ lives. In May 1995, the Turkish army launched Operation Steel with the participation of 35,000 personnel. The operation was followed by Operation Claw, launched on May 27, 2019, to eliminate the presence of the terrorist organization in northern Iraq.
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