Ironically, the Turkish government’s 2022 offensive against Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq, which it named Operation Claw-Lock, itself got locked in Zap [in northern Iraq], said Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) co-founder Murat Karayılan on Saturday.
Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar announced the end of the operation which had aimed to clear Zap of PKK fighters, on 2 January. Ankara claimed Zap was the only remaining region in northern Iraq used by the PKK to transport manpower and weapons into Turkey, and its ultimate aim was to establish permanent bases in Zap and Avaşin, in addition to the 20 military outposts it had built in the region in recent years.
“They named the operation Claw-Lock but they themselves got locked in Zap. That is a reality visible to everyone,” Karayılan told Fırat news agency in an interview.
The Turkish government failed to invade areas it was targeting in northern Iraq in operations carried out in the last two years, despite the support of the government ruling the Kurdish autonomous region in the country and the former Iraqi government, the PKK commander said.
Karayılan also denied Akar’s claims that more than four thousand Kurdish guerrillas had been killed in northern Iraq by the Turkish military, saying that their actual death toll was 301.
“Hulusi Akar made some statements implying that Operation Claw-Lack was complete. He said things that implied all targeted places had been invaded. This is definitely not true, it is a distortion of the facts. They were not able to hold on to the places they targeted. Clashes have been ongoing in Zap today, and the Turkish army is trying to get out of the situation it has put itself in,” said Karayılan.
The commander also mentioned allegations that the Turkish army has been using chemical weapons against PKK fighters in northern Iraq.
“You violently oppressed and arrested not only those who accused you of using chemicals, but even those who called for an investigation,” he said, adding that one could only laugh at Akar’s statements that Ankara had confirmed that the allegations were untrue through an investigation carried out by a delegation it had itself established.
Karayılan also recalled PKK claims that 11 fighters lost their lives on 5 November as a result of chemical weapons used by the Turkish army.
“You will not be able to hide forever how you massacred the 11 brave, distinguished sons and daughters of the Kurdish people near Saca village close to Sîda. This will most certainly be revealed and your real face will be shown to the world, you will not be able to avoid having to account for it. The best thing for you is to confess the truth now. That is my advice to you,” Karayılan said.