Nine Turkish soldiers killed in clashes with PKK in Iraq

Turkey’s Defense Ministry announced that nine soldiers lost their lives and five soldiers were wounded during clashes with the outlawed PKK in Northern Iraq. The public outcry sparked after the authorities left a dozen heaters to one of the soldiers' family who had been living in a tent in quake-torn Kahramanmaraş province.

Duvar English

Turkey’s Defense Ministry on Jan. 12-13 announced that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacked a military base in Northern Iraq, killed nine soldiers, and wounded four during the ongoing Operation Claw-Lock.

After the attacks, the Turkish Army announced air strikes in Metina, Hakurk, Gara, and Qandil regions in Iraq and some areas in northern Syria.

"Operations following the treacherous attack neutralised a total of 45 terrorists, 36 in northern Iraq and 9 in northern Syria," Turkey's Communications Directorate said in a statement after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chaired a security meeting. Ankara typically uses the term "neutralized" to mean killed.

Turkish forces have been carrying out a cross-border operation called "Claw-Lock" in Iraq as part of the country's offensive against PKK militants.

The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.

Turkey has also launched military incursions in Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia, regarding it as a wing of the PKK. "The infiltration attempt of a terrorist group of 12 people in northern Syria was successfully prevented," the defense ministry statement said.

Quake survivor family receives death of son in tent 

Turkish authorities have given ten heaters to the Özdemir family living in a tent in quake-torn southeastern Kahramanmaraş province after delivering news that their son lost his life in the clashes.

The family's house was destroyed in the Feb. 6 earthquakes nearly one year ago and the family of the killed soldier started to live in a tent because they could not heat the container they were living in, according to the Demirören News Agency (DHA).

After public outcry sparked, Singer Haluk Levent and comedian Hasan Can Kaya announced that they would donate their revenue from upcoming shows to buy a house for the family. 

Kahramanmaraş Governor’s Office denied that the family was living in a tent in a statement on X and argued that tents in the province were completely removed and everyone was placed in containers.

The governor’s office said that a permanent village house would be built and delivered to the family.

Erdoğan refrains from contacting main opposition CHP 

President Erdoğan made a phone call to far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chair Devlet Bahçeli and nationalist opposition Good (İYİ) Party chair Meral Akşener to inform them after nine soldiers lost their lives.

However, Erdoğan has refrained from calling the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Özgür Özel.

Özel made a statement after the CHP’s Central Executive Committee (MYK) meeting and reminded that 23 of the 25 soldiers killed in the last month were from the same region.

“Instead of saying that the blood of our sons should not stay on the ground, we say that their blood should not be shed. It is not enough to tweet from their cozy heated houses. Those children are dying at minus 14 Celsius degrees,” Özel stated.

Özel slammed the government on the family of the soldier who has been living in a tent and said, “There is no house, there is a container and the container is freezing cold. The family of the soldier had to move to the tens so that they could heat inside of it. When the situation of the soldier’s family was revealed, (the authorities) were ashamed to hang a flag in the tent and they immediately called it disinformation."

In a statement released after the meeting, the CHP MYK also asked, "What are the political and military objectives of the 20-month-long Claw-Lock operation, and what is the status of achieving these objectives?"

Twelve Turkish soldiers also have been killed in Dec. 22-23 in clashes with the PKK militants in northern Iraq.