Days after airstrikes, Turkey launches new ground operations in Kurdistan Region

Dubbed 'Operation Tiger-Claw'
Illustrative photo of a Turkish military helicopter (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Turkish Armed Forces)

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SULAIMANI — Two days after launching a round of airstrikes, Turkey began a new ground operation in the Kurdistan Region during the early hours of Wednesday morning (June 17).

Dubbing the new action “Operation Tiger-Claw,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said that it had airlifted commandos into Haftanin, which refers to an area of the Kurdistan Region’s Duhok governorate northeast of Zakho, to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The operation “is being carried out as part of our legitimate defense rights arising from international law oriented against the PKK and other terrorist elements that have recently attempted increased harassment and attacks on our police station and base areas,” the defense ministry said in a tweet.

The attack also involved air cover from drones and the Turkish Air Force and shelling by artillery units.

It was not immediately clear whether there had been any military or civilian casualties as a result of the operation.

On Monday, Ankara launched airstrikes against targets across the Kurdistan Region and northern Iraq, bringing condemnation from many quarters. Notably the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which has extensive political and economic ties with Turkey, has remained silent so far.

Then on Tuesday, Turkey also launched airstrikes in the Haji Omaran area, while there were reports of Iranian shelling in Balakayati.

Iraq’s foreign ministry issued a formal letter of protest to Turkey on Tuesday, calling the airstrikes “a violation of [its] sovereignty.”

The country’s Joint Operations Command also denounced the attack, which hit targets near displacement camps in Makhmour and Mount Sinjar and the PKK’s headquarters in Qandil.

Protesters took to the streets in Sulaimani and northeastern Syria on Monday to condemn airstrikes on

Turkey already has an extensive military presence in the Kurdistan Region, including on-the-ground troops and several bases, and routinely conducts cross-border attacks against suspected PKK targets, which sometimes result in civilian casualties.

The new ground operation will likely put pressure on both Baghdad and the KRG to respond to Ankara in a substantive way.

(NRT Digital Media)