Turkish military launch operation targeting Kurdish rebel hideouts

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkish security forces have launched an operation targeting shelters and stores believed to belong to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the military said on Tuesday, days after the group’s jailed leader called its armed struggle “unsustainable”.

Teams in the southeastern Mardin province were looking for outposts of the group, which has waged a three-decade insurgency against Ankara.

“Security forces are conducting an operation with five teams with the aim of identifying and destroying shelters and stores believed to belong to the separatist terrorist group in the Mazidag countryside of Mardin,” the military said in a statement.

On Saturday jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan called for his group to hold a congress on ending its armed struggle, which he said had become “unsustainable”. However, he stopped short of declaring an immediate end to the struggle.

President Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minister, launched talks with Ocalan in late 2012 to end an insurgency that has killed 40,000 people, ravaged the region’s economy and tarnished Turkey’s image abroad. Progress has been faltering since then, but Kurdish faith in Ocalan remains undiminished.

Writing by Daren Butler and David Dolan; Editing by Dominic Evans