The People’s Defence Forces (HPG), the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has announced the deaths of 36 Turkish soldiers in recent clashes in Hakurk (Xakurkê) and Metina (Metîna), the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The HPG detailed a coordinated guerrilla operation, named ‘Martyr Ahmed Rûbar Revolutionary Operation’, in Hakurk, and a similar operation in Metina, claiming success in targeting Turkish military forces.
Per the HPG Press Contact Centre, these operations were executed in harsh winter conditions, utilising advanced guerrilla tactics. In Hakurk, the operation reportedly resulted in the deaths of 27 Turkish soldiers, and in Metina, nine soldiers were allegedly killed. The HPG also claimed seizure and destruction of a significant amount of military equipment.
Moreover, the press centre shared details of other engagements and purported Turkish army attacks in the region, including the use of banned explosives and drone strikes. They accused the Turkish army of concealing the actual casualty figures.
Duran Kalkan, a member of the PKK’s Executive Committee, has recently highlighted the substantial impact of Kurdish guerrilla actions on Turkish forces. Kalkan also criticised the Turkish government’s attempts to secure NATO support and condemned the alleged cooperation between Turkey and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in military operations against the PKK.
In November, the HPG made a comprehensive claim stating that the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) incurred 49 casualties in recent operations, and shared footage that they claim depicts preparations for these operations.
These assertions from the HPG are in contrast to reports from the Turkish Defence Ministry (MSB), which often provides differing casualty figures. The ministry had previously reported fewer soldier fatalities in such operations, attributing the losses to “harassment fire”.
The general public faces challenges in accessing reliable information due to the MSB’s established practice of not disclosing precise casualty figures and the prevalent censorship in Turkish media.
At the start of this year, the All Martyrs Families Association, which represents relatives of fallen Turkish soldiers, released a statement that brought attention to the covert burials and dubious circumstances around the deaths of Turkish soldiers. Their accounts lend support to the HPG’s assertions and cast doubt on the actual scale of losses suffered by the Turkish military in the area.