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102 PKK militants killed in Turkey army offensive in southeast

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)
Armed Kurdish militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) stand behind a barricade of concrete blocks during clashes with Turkish forces at Bismil, Diyarbakir, September 28, 2015. (AFP photo)

More than 100 militants with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have been killed in a major offensive conducted by Turkey’s army in the restive southeast.

An unnamed security source said on Sunday that the death toll among the Kurdish militants has hit 102 as the army’s operation entered its fifth day.

Unconfirmed reports say at least two Turkish soldiers and five civilians have been killed.

The new tally comes a day after an earlier toll put the figure at 70 dead, while the Turkish military said all of those killed were suspected members of the PKK.

The army launched an operation on December 16 in the towns of Cizre and Silopi in Sirnak Province as well as a volatile neighborhood in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the region, to push supporters of the PKK from urban areas.

Some 10,000 troops backed by tanks have been sent to the southeast, according to local media.

On December 20, the Turkish military launched airstrikes on PKK hideouts and weapons sites across the border in northern Iraq.

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

The operations began in the wake of a deadly July 20 bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc. More than 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on Takfiri Daesh terrorist group. After the bombing, the PKK militants, who accuse the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of supposed reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, in turn prompting the Turkish military operations.

People in the Kurdish-majority towns and cities in the southeast are angry at the imposition of curfews that at times last for days as the security forces fight Kurdish militants.

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