Turkish security forces on Monday night launched one of their largest “anti-terrorist” operations in recent years in the restive south-east against Kurdish militants, security sources said.
Some 7,000 gendarmerie — who look after domestic security — 600 special forces and dozens of tanks and helicopters were used in an operation in Lice in the largest Kurdish-majority province of Diyarbakir, sources told AFP.
In Lice, 18 villages were placed under strict curfew until further notice, the Diyarbakir governorate said in a statement.
The aim of the operation, the governor’s office said, was to “neutralise” members and accomplices of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.
More than 40,000 people have been killed since 1984 in the conflict between the PKK — which seeks greater rights and autonomy for Turkey’s Kurdish minority — and the army.
Fighting renewed after a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire collapsed in the summer of 2015.
When PKK youths launched an insurrectionary movement in several towns in the troubled region, Turkish security forces were sent in with tanks to dislodge them.
Kurdish separatists launched multiple attacks in the country in response, including in Istanbul and the capital Ankara.
Since an attempted putsch last July, over 100,000 people including journalists have been dismissed or detained by police, accused of links to coup-plotters and also Kurdish militants.
The new offensive comes over a month before a referendum on whether to create an executive presidency which would expand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.
© Agence France-Presse