Turkey ended security operations near Iraq, Syria border

The Turkish army Friday completed a nearly three-month operation to eliminate the presence of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in a majority-Kurdish town in the southeast. turkey

The military offensive in the town of Nusaybin in Mardin province, bordering Syria, began after authorities imposed a curfew on March 14, the private Dogan news agency reported.

A total of 495 PKK militants have been killed since then in Nusaybin alone, it said. It is not possible to independently verify the toll.

The office of the governor of Nusaybin said 50 soldiers died there.

Throughout the operations, which began mid-March, hundreds of barricades and trenches were dismantled and some 2,792 explosives deactivated.

Turkey has vowed to uproot the PKK, classified as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and its Western allies, with so-called “clean-up” operations in several towns including Nusaybin and Yuksekova in nearby Hakkari province.

Activists have accused the security forces of causing huge destruction to urban centers and killing civilians. But the government says the operations are essential for public safety and the PKK is to blame for the damage.

In another development, seven Turkish soldiers were injured Friday in an explosion in the Diyarbakir province in the southeast, security sources said.

The violence flared last year between Kurdish rebels and government forces, shattering a 2013 ceasefire reached after secret talks between PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and the Turkish state.

Over 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK took up arms in 1984 demanding an independent state for Kurds. Since then the group has narrowed its demands to greater autonomy and cultural rights.