Turkish forces capture 4 PKK terrorists from cave in northern Iraq
Turkish security forces captured at least four PKK terrorists after storming a cave in an operation in northern Iraq, military sources said Saturday.
As part of the ongoing Claw-Thunder Operation, Turkish commandos descended on the cave located on a 1,917-meter (6,289-foot) high hill in the Avashin area, sources in the country's Defense Ministry said.
The terrorists immediately surrendered after realizing they had nowhere to flee as the commandos landed at the hideout by helicopter, they added.
According to the sources, the commandos carried out a thorough search of the cave, which had numerous rooms, and seized arms and ammunition, including two anti-aircraft machine guns, seven AK-47 rifles among 12 rifles, an M-16, a sniper rifle, two PKM machine guns, known as Bixi, two rocket launchers and a large quantity of ammunition for these weapons.
The Claw operations are a series of offensives Turkey has carried out since 2019 against terrorist organizations in northern Iraq, particularly the PKK.
Operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle were initiated in June last year, while the following Claw operations were launched this April in Iraq's Metina and Avashin-Basyan regions.
Later in the day, security forces also eliminated at least two PKK terrorists in northern Iraq, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
Terrorists were targeted in the Operation Claw-Tiger area, according to the ministry.
Turkey continues its fight against terrorists resolutely, it added.
Determined to curb terrorism at its source, Turkey is throttling the terrorist group in northern Iraq. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), which eliminated the so-called ringleaders of the PKK in their terrorist dens, have already caused the psychological collapse of the group. In the last two years, the operations intensifying in northern Iraq have demolished the terrorist dens in Metina, Avashin-Basyan, Zap and Gara. After destroying the organization's influence in these regions, Turkey now aims to clear Qandil, Sinjar and Makhmour – described as the "main target" – of terrorism.
The PKK terrorist group often hides out in northern Iraq, just across Turkey's southern border, to plot terrorist attacks in Turkey. The Turkish military regularly conducts cross-border operations in northern Iraq. Turkey has long been stressing that it will not tolerate terrorist threats posed against its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorist group. Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps were not taken, it would not shy away from targeting terrorist threats.
The Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq are the PKK's stronghold and the group is active in many cities and towns. It occupies a large number of villages in the region from where it launches attacks on Turkey. Turkish intelligence learned that the Makhmour camp was as important as Qandil for the terrorists as they were able to recruit and train members under its guise.
The PKK terrorist group also managed to establish a foothold in Sinjar in mid-2014 under the pretext of protecting the local Yazidi community from Daesh. Since then, the PKK has reportedly established a new base in Sinjar for its logistical and command-and-control activities. Around 450,000 Yazidis escaped Sinjar after Daesh took control of the region in mid-2014.