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Turkey determined to continue anti-PKK raids: Erdogan

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)
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ©AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed that Ankara will press ahead with the anti-Kurdish military campaign, which he said, left more than 3,000 militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) dead this year.

In his televised New Year address on Thursday, Erdogan said the country has “the resources and determination” to purge the southeastern towns and mountainous areas of PKK militants.

“Our security forces are continuing to cleanse every place of terrorists, in the mountains and in the cities, and will continue to do so,” Erdogan said in reference to PKK members, who have been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since 1980s.

The Turkish leader further said 3,100 Kurdish militants were killed in 2015 during the army offensive both “at home and abroad,” adding that the anti-PKK military operations have claimed the lives of 200 security forces as well as an unspecified number of civilians.

People carry the coffin of a victim of clashes in Cizre before his funeral in Sirnak, Turkey, December 23, 2015. ©AP

Turkey’s southeastern regions have witnessed a spike in violence amid heavy confrontations between army forces and PKK militants that erupted in July. Ankara’s military has also been involved in an offensive against positions of the Kurdish group in neighboring Iraq.

The Turkish raids against the PKK began in the wake of the July 20 bombing that left 30 people dead in the southern town of Suruc. Ankara blamed the bomb attack on Daesh terrorists.

Following the bombing, the PKK, which accuses the government of backing the Takfiri group in Syria, began targeting Turkish security forces in what is viewed as reprisal attacks.

Since mid-December, curfews have been imposed in the towns of Silopi and Cizre in Sirnak Province in the latest wave of army operations against Kurdish militants, promoting angry reactions from the residents of the Kurdish-majority areas.

The pro-Kurdish opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) says 56 civilians lost their lives during curfews this month alone.

“These curfews, whose aims are public order and security, have led to terrorising the public, the killing of civilians, the destruction of cultural heritage sites, and the ruining of the cities,” said HDP MP Ayhan Bilgen.

The HDP has also accused Ankara of “ordering a massacre” in Silopi and Cizre.

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