Turkey begins second phase of Operation Claw in Kurdistan Region against PKK

Turkey has begun its second wave of Operation Claw against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerillas in the Khakurk area south of Turkey’s border with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The first phase commenced in late-May.

“On the evening of July 12, a new operation named Claw 2 was launched with our Commando Brigades in the north of Iraq to destroy caves and shelters used by a terror organisation. This is a follow-up on the successfully ongoing Claw 1 operation in the Hakurk [Khakurk] area which revealed new information on terrorist activity,” read a statement from the Turkish Ministry of Defense that was released on Saturday.

Ankara is branding the new offensive ‘Operation Claw 2.’ Hakurk is in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, close to the borders with Turkey and Iran. It is located just north of Qandil, where the PKK is headquartered about 52 kilometers northeast of the regional capital city of Erbil.

“The operation continues as planned,” it added, detailing Turkey is supporting it with Air Force planes, ground fire support vehicles, TAI/AgustaWestland (ATAK) attack helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The ministry has claimed it “neutralized” dozens of PKK fighters in the framework of Operation Claw, but the Kurdish group has refuted the figure.

Ankara uses the word neutralized to refer to those killed, wounded, or otherwise removed from the battlefield. The PKK has also claimed the lives of a number of Turkish soldiers. The two figures rarely match.

On the 38th anniversary of the July 14 event in a Diyarbakir prison, the PKK announced “Halat Retaliation Year” on Saturday. It is a reference to the killing of senior PKK leader Diyar Ghareen, known as Halmat by his comrades, during Turkish operations on July 5.

A group of Kurds were held in Diyarbakir prison after a 1980 military coup in Turkey. Abused in the jail, a group of the prisoners went on a hunger strike. The incident is commemorated by sympathizers remembered every year. A film about it called ‘14 Temmuz’ (July 14) has sometimes been banned by the Turkish state.