Turkey declares ‘military zone’ for operations against PKK

Turkish soldiers conducting military operation in Kurdish dominated region, southeast Turkey

The Turkish military has announced that 31 regions in the eastern city of Tunceli have been declared ‘temporary military zones’ for operations.

35 areas in Tunceli’s Nazimiye, Ovacik, Hozat and Pulumur districts have been declared special security zones for 15 days.

According to Turkish agencies, the operation is targeting 400 militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as well as some from leftist organisations operating in the region.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu signalled at more operations against the PKK in a recent speech, saying they would “wipe out” the Kurdish armed group.

In January, Turkish authorities claimed security forces had killed 10,000 PKK members since a return to clashes in July 2015. The figure was deemed as unrealistic by experts.

The PKK, in a statement on Thursday, said it had clashed with Turkish soldiers in Hakkari province, leading to the death of four soldiers.

Turkey has intensified operations ahead of the upcoming constitutional referendum and deployed thousands of soldiers and armoured vehicles at the Iraq border.

A cross-border operation into the PKK’s bases in the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq has been predicted by pro-government analysts.

Hundreds of Kurdish and pro-Kurdish politicians have also been detained in house raids across Turkey ahead of Kurdish new year, Newroz, celebrations.