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Turkey forces kill 23 PKK militants near Syria, Iraq borders

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
PKK militants are pictured during clashes with Turkish forces on September 28, 2015, at Bismil, in Diyarbakir. ©AFP

Nearly two dozen members of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) have been killed in two days of Turkish military operations in the country’s southeast, local media say.

Turkish forces carried out the operations in Silopi and Cizre towns in Sirnak Province, which is close to Syrian and Iraqi borders, killing some 23 PKK militants in the process, the Anadolu news agency said on Thursday.

Ankara has been engaged in a large-scale military campaign against the PKK in its southern border region in the recent past. The Turkish military has also been conducting offensives against PKK positions in northern Iraq.

Earlier this week, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said anti-PKK operations would continue in Silopi and Cizre to prevent the militants from “spreading the fire” from Syria and Iraq into Turkey.

An armed PKK militant stands behind a barricade of concrete blocks during clashes with Turkish forces on September 28, 2015, at Bismil, in Diyarbakir. ©AFP

“The terrorists will be wiped out from these districts. Neighborhood by neighborhood, house by house, street by street,” he added.

However, Figen Yuksekdag from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) criticized Davutoglu’s remarks and accused the government of “ordering a massacre” in Silopi and Cizre.

“Who are these operations against, Mr. prime minister? There are people living in these houses,” she said.

Ankara’s operations began in the wake of a deadly July 20 bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc, located close to border with Syria. More than 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

After the bombing, PKK militants who accuse the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of attacks against Turkish police and security forces, in turn prompting Turkey's military operations.

The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since 1984.​ A shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 was declared null and void following the Turkish military campaign against the militant group.

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