Turkish soldier killed, six wounded in operation in Kurdistan Region

Mustafa Unal (Photo Credit: Turkish Defense Ministry)

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SULAIMANI — A Turkish soldier was killed and six wounded on Friday (July 19) in an operation in the Kurdistan Region during clashes with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Turkish defense ministry said.

The defense ministry later named the deceased soldier as Mustafa Unal.

The Turkish military last week launched what it described as the second stage of a campaign it has dubbed “Operation Claw” in the Kurdistan Region. The campaign was first started on May 27, targeting the PKK with artillery and air strikes as well as operations by commando brigades, according to Reuters.

The PKK is based in the Region, notably in the Qandil area. Turkey says Operation Claw aims to destroy shelters and caves used by the PKK and “neutralize” its members - a term it commonly uses to refer to deaths, but also those wounded or captured.

Turkey routinely launches air strikes in the Region.

The defense ministry claimed that two PKK members were killed in air strikes in in the Kurdistan Region on Friday in a separate operation. There was no immediate comment from the PKK.

The ministry said on Monday a total of 71 PKK members had been “neutralized” within the scope of the two Claw operations since May 27, and a total of 174 members had been “neutralized” in the Kurdistan Region during the same period.

Another Turkish soldier was killed by a PKK rocket attack on Friday in the Bitlis province of eastern Turkey, a security source said. Two other people were wounded, the source said.

Separately, Turkey has also launched multiple strikes on Makhmour and Amedi, sending at least five people to the hospital.

The PKK insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast began in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict. It is designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the European Union, and United States.

The news comes at a sensitive time. On Wednesday, a Turkish diplomat and two other people were killed in the Kurdistan Region’s capital of Erbil, in what the Kurdistan Regional Government called a “premeditated terrorist attack.”

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)