Türkiye says Zap region in northern Iraq 'largely cleared' of PKK terrorists

Hulusi Akar, Turkish National Defence Minister

© APA | Hulusi Akar, Turkish National Defence Minister

# 24 January 2023 13:15 (UTC +04:00)

Türkiye has managed to eliminate almost all PKK terrorists from Zap region in northern Iraq, according to National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, APA reports citing Anadolu Agency.

A total of 506 terrorists have been neutralized since Türkiye launched Operation Claw-Lock, a cross-border anti-terrorism offensive, last April, Akar told reporters after a Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara on Monday.

“Operation Claw-Lock has reached a certain stage. The Zap area has been largely cleared of terrorists,” he said.

“With this operation, a 302-kilometer (187-mile) line along the Iraqi border has been secured.”

Turkish forces destroyed nearly 600 caves and terrorist shelters in the region, according to Akar, along with more than 2,000 mines and handmade explosives.

Some 1,174 weapons and 533,275 rounds of ammunition were seized, he said.

Akar reaffirmed Türkiye’s respect for the borders, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of all neighbors, especially Iraq and Syria.

“Our only objective is the defense and security of our nation. That is what we are working for, and we will do whatever needs to be done.”

With Operation Claw-Lock, Turkish forces targeted the PKK terror group’s hideouts in Iraq’s northern Metina, Zap, and Avasin-Basyan regions, near the Turkish border.

It was preceded by two operations – Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle – launched in 2020.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.