World News

Turkey says 108 Kurdish militants 'neutralized' in past week

ANKARA (Reuters) - Some 108 Kurdish militants have been “neutralized” in operations targeting southeast Turkey and northern Iraq over the past week, Turkey’s armed forces said on Saturday.

The military uses the term “neutralized” to refer to operations in which opposition forces have been killed, wounded or captured.

In a weekly roundup, it said it had neutralized 31 militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the southeastern provinces of Tunceli, Mardin, Diyarbakir and Sirnak.

It said 77 other militants had been neutralized in cross-border operations.

Earlier on Saturday, the military said it had neutralized six militants in an air strike targeting northern Iraq’s Hakurk region.

Turkey regularly carries out air strikes against PKK targets in northern Iraq, where the group is based in the Qandil mountains, but has also recently threatened to push its operations to Sinjar.

Ankara has long complained that PKK fighters are being given free rein to operate out of Sinjar against Turkish targets.

President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would do “what is necessary” if an Iraqi operation against the militants failed, raising the prospect of a possible direct Turkish military operation.

Turkish forces are currently waging a full-scale military operation in the Afrin region of northern Syria against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara sees as an extension of the PKK.

The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast that has killed some 40,000 people.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; editing by Jason Neely