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Ankara launches vast security operation against PKK militants 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)
Turkish soldiers are seen outside Lice district in Diyarbakir province on June 26, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Security forces in Turkey have launched one of their largest "anti-terrorist" operations over the past years against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group in the country’s troubled southeast.

Sources said on Monday that some 7,000 Turkish gendarmerie soldiers, 600 special forces along with dozens of tanks and helicopters had been deployed to Lice district in Diyarbakir province.

Provincial governor’s office said in a statement that 18 villages in Lice had been placed under strict curfew until further notice.

The aim of the operation is to "neutralize" members and accomplices of the outlawed PKK militant group, it added.

On February 12, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said that a total of 2,603 people had been arrested over the past five months due to their alleged links to the PKK.  

Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants stand behind a barricade during clashes with Turkish forces in the Bismil district of Diyarbakir province, on September 28, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey has declared the PKK a terrorist organization and has banned it. The militant group has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against the PKK positions in the country’s southeastern border region as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.

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