The Turkish military launched a large ground and air offensive, reportedly aimed at Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in the Metina, Zap and Avashin regions in Iraqi Kurdistan on 23 April.
Whilst Turkish fighter jets and helicopters have continued to bomb the operation zones, clashes between Kurdish fighters of the Peoples’ Defence Forces (HPG) and Free Women’s Units (YJA-Star) and Turkish armed forces have continued.
Formed as a female-only fighting unit, YJA-Star has been in the front lines of battles against the Turkish armed forces for several years. Hezil Özgür, one of the commanders of the YJA-Star Central Headquarters, presented detailed information about Turkey’s ongoing campaign, especially in the Zap and Avashin regions where Kurdish female fighters have taken an active part in defence.
Özgür stated that thousands of Turkish soldiers were mobilised in this most recent campaign and even to enter and defend just one location they have been defending in the region, Turkey has had to launch thirty-seven military sorties with five fighter jets and eleven military helicopters over a period of eleven days.
“On the evening of 23 April,” Özgür stated, “An invasion attack was initiated in various strategic locations in Avashin’s Mervanos area, Mamreso area, again in Zap, Qela Bêdewê and Cilo slopes in the Ertus region and Hill Zendura in Metina.”
“Their goal is to beseige and then take Avashin and to seize the important locations in the Zap region, proceeding along the border line from Avashin to Metina within the borders of Bashure [South] Kurdistan. In fact, our forces here present an excuse for them. Essentially, they want to settle here,” she asserted.
Özgür added: “They have to take tens of kilometres under their control in order to take a hill’s control from professional guerrilla groups. The cost for them is to lose many of their troops. Because the land belongs to the guerrilla. But these losses do not matter to them.
“Before the operation started, we knew that the Bilican Police Station’s hospital had been expanded: they have built additional facilities and established field hospitals. The conclusion is that they risk great losses, even just to take control of a hill, but they do not have the courage to explain their losses. Because the state itself is a mechanism based on lies.
”From the first day, they have been faced with the intense intervention of our friends. They could not land on Mamreso and Zendura. Even if they land, they face intense attacks. In Mamreso alone, dozens of fighter jets, helicopters, drones and all kinds of techniques were used, but they could not enter it for 10-11 days.”
In terms of the purposes and the targets of Turkey’s campaign, Özgür stated: “At the end of 2020, we predicted that the Turkish state would actually enter the Medya Defence Zones, and in particular Zap and Avashin, because officially, after the 2010 period, they decided to annihilate our movement. They targeted especially the guerrilla between 2014 and 2016.
“As you know, it was the ‘solution process’ before that. They annulled the process and have continued the genocide. Actually, this is not only their decision. It is also based on the hegemonic forces in the region that entered the trap of the Third World War and could not find a solution.”
Defining the Kurdish freedom struggle as an alternative position that ideologically, philosophically and organisationally acts against the hegemonic powers in the world, Özgür added: “The position of our leader [Abdullah Öcalan] has given us a position of victory. Because, thanks to the circumstances he triggered through his stance, our movement has grown in every way and has become a source of hope for everyone with its new strategy for struggle. Thanks to him, Kurdish people have introduced to the whole world a revolution like Rojava. The guerrilla have been restructured and have made themselves the guerrilla of the 21st century.”
Özgür stressed that Kurdish freedom fighters face an international concept of war and Turkey is only a “guardian” here. It has assumed a role which, she emphasized, has been given to it by international powers.
“They strengthened the army with the support of NATO after 2015. Technical equipment was supplied to Turkey. The Turkish army was supplied with technical war equipment and support and all kinds with regard to tracking systems. With all of this, their aim was to terminate the guerrilla,” she said.
Özgür concluded by stating: “We have been fighting against such a strategy for six years. The ongoing attacks are not new in Zap, Avasin, Xakurkê and most recently in Heftanin and Gare. The attacks this year are different in one way and that is that the failure of the Turkish army has been completely revealed. The Turkish army, which uses all its means to be successful against the guerrilla, has been defeated by the guerrilla and this defeat has unmasked the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance government.”