ANKARA, Turkey – Turkish air raids killed at least 25 rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Tuesday, the government claimed, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted both the group and the only pro-Kurdish party in parliament.
A statement by the Turkish General Staff said that 19 of the dead were killed in an operation that targeted PKK camps in the Gara area of northern Iraq, the official Anadolu Agency reported.
The six others were killed in the Cukurca area of Turkey’s southeastern Hakkari province, which borders Iraq, according to the statement.
Ankara and the PKK reignited their war in July, shattering a fragile peace process begun in early 2013. Turkey has repeatedly bombed the PKK in northern Iraq and its own southeast.
Turkish military sources claim that around 130 security forces have been killed in the renewed conflict, while the PKK says it has killed some 568 security personnel and lost less than 50 fighters.
Meanwhile Tuesday, President Erdogan accused the PKK of exploiting the peace process and the Kurdish people.
“Is it possible for an organization that shoots, ruins and destroys ambulances, fire vehicles, mosques, schools, work places and homes to struggle for the people in the region?,” he asked in a speech to village leaders in Ankara.
“Those who attack our country’s benefits and aim at its unity and integrity do not belong to this nation, whatever title they have, even if they are in the parliament,” AA quoted him as saying.
“The latter comment is thought to be a thinly veiled reference to the People’s Democratic Party (HDP),” the official news agency said.
The HDP had been the conduit of talks between Ankara and the PKK.
Erdogan reignited the war against the PKK after a July 20 massacre in the city of Suruc in which 33 pro-Kurdish activists were killed. The attack was blamed on the Islamic State (ISIS) group, but the military turned its guns on the PKK.
That came after the ruling AKP party that backs Erdogan failed to gain the seats the president wants in order to change the constitution and bolster his own powers.
The HDP, which stood against an AKP victory, has vowed to do even better in the November 1 snap polls, which were called after the June election was inconclusive.