Twelve Turkish soldiers killed in clashes with Kurdish militants in Iraq

Turkey's Defense Ministry stated that 12 Turkish soldiers have been killed in the past two days in clashes with outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq.

Duvar English

Twelve Turkish soldiers have been killed in Dec. 22-23 in clashes with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq, the Defense Ministry said on Dec. 23.

The military carried out air strikes on PKK targets, “neutralizing” at least 13 PKK militants on Dec. 23 in ongoing clashes, the ministry said in a statement on social media platform X.

Turkey typically uses the term "neutralized" to mean killed. The ministry also said seven militants had been killed on Dec. 22.

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

Turkey regularly carries out air strikes in neighboring Iraq as part of its offensive against PKK militants based there. Its operations escalated in the region particularly after PKK's bomb attack in country's capital Ankara on Oct. 1.

"Turkey will not allow a terrorist organization in the north of Iraq or Syria at any cost," President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a condolence message shared on X.

Turkey lists the The People's Defense Units (YPG) in Syria and Iraq as a terrorist organization and says it is indistinguishable from the PKK yet, US and EU do not deem YPG as a terrorist organization.

The YPG is at the heart of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State militants. US support for them has long caused tension with Turkey.

The main opposition Republican People's Party chair Özgür Özel shared his condolences on X and visited one the soldier's family house in Aegean İzmir province.

Nationalist opposition Good (İYİ) Party called for a declaration of national mourning.