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Military operations claim two lives in southeast Turkey

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)
People argue with Turkish police during clashes at the Sur district in Diyarbakir, Jan. 3, 2016. ©AFP

At least two people have been killed during Turkish military operations in the volatile southeastern city of Cizre, which has been under a tight curfew over the past weeks.

The fatalities came after the Turkish army tanks pounded urban targets in the heavily-damaged neighborhoods of the mainly-Kurdish city in Sirnak Province close to the Iraqi border.

Several others were wounded as a group of civilians tried to recover two bodies from a neighborhood in Cizre.

Footage later released by Turkish media showed the group coming under fire while carrying bodies.

Meanwhile, at least 33 militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were killed on Thursday in clashes with the Turkish army in the Kurdish southeast, according to a statement from the Turkish army.

The statement also said 29 PKK members were killed in fighting with Turkish soldiers in Sirnak and another four died in the neighboring Diyarbakir Province.

According to activists in the region, the death toll is much higher.

“The Turkish bombardment has caused mass displacement among civilians, destruction of infrastructures and death of more than 50 civilians in Cizre alone,” civil rights activist Ehmed Hokenek told local media. 

People walk with coffins of victims from Cizre and Silopi killed during curfews at a funeral in Sirnak, Turkey, on January 12, 2016. ©AFP

“The Turkish army avoids mentioning the civilian casualties in its brutal campaign against the Kurdish region,” he added.

Ankara has been engaged in a large-scale campaign against the PKK, which has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since 1980s.

Since mid-December 2015, curfews have been imposed in the towns of Silopi and Cizre in Sirnak Province as part of the army operations against PKK militants, prompting angry reactions from the residents of the Kurdish-majority areas.

Authorities, however, say the curfews are aimed at protecting civilians amid near-daily clashes.

In a Thursday report, Amnesty International urged Turkey to end the “draconian restrictions” on the movement of people and excessive use of force in the country’s Kurdish-populated regions.

The report added that Ankara’s military operations that are being conducted “under round-the-clock curfews are putting the lives of tens of thousands of people at risk.”

The operations began in the wake of a July bombing by Daesh in the southern Turkish town of Suruc in which more than 30 people were killed.  

PKK militants have accused the Turkish government of supporting Daesh and carried out a series of attacks against police and security forces, prompting the government's current operations.

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