New Turkish raids against ISIS, Kurds

Police in Istanbul dispersing demonstrators at the funeral on Saturday of Ms Gunay Ozarslan, a member of the far-left People's Front who, according to local media, was killed by police during a security operation.
Police in Istanbul dispersing demonstrators at the funeral on Saturday of Ms Gunay Ozarslan, a member of the far-left People's Front who, according to local media, was killed by police during a security operation.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL • Turkey's military has carried out a new wave of air and artillery strikes against both fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria and Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, putting in jeopardy a fragile ceasefire with Turkish Kurds.

The two-pronged operation on Saturday against ISIS and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - two groups which are themselves bitterly opposed - came after a week of deadly violence in Turkey which the authorities blamed on both organisations.

The strikes on the PKK threw into doubt a fragile ceasefire between Kurdish separatists and Turkey that has been in place since 2013, with the rebels saying the conditions for observing the truce had been "eliminated".

After raids overnight, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkish war planes had carried out new daytime raids against ISIS in Syria and the PKK in northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, Turkish ground forces pounded targets belonging to both groups with artillery from the Turkish side of the border.

"No one should doubt our determination," Mr Davutoglu said. "We will not allow Turkey to be turned into a lawless country."

His office said shelters and warehouses containing PKK weapons were hit in the operation in northern Iraq, where the PKK's military leadership is based.

The raids were the fiercest by Turkey since August 2011 when PKK targets in northern Iraq were pounded in six days of air strikes.

Yesterday, the Turkish army blamed PKK militants for an attack that killed two of its soldiers in the Kurdish-dominated south-east.

A car bomb went off as the soldiers were travelling on a road in the Lice district of Diyarbakir province late on Saturday, a statement from the local governor's office said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The PKK has for decades waged a deadly insurgency in the southeast of Turkey for self-rule that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

A peace process that was launched in 2013 has so far failed to yield a final deal.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline 'New Turkish raids against ISIS, Kurds'. Print Edition | Subscribe