October 21, 2011
The Turkish military dispatched about 10,000 troops to the border with northern Iraq yesterday as part of its largest offensive against Kurdish militants for three years.
Turkish television reported last night that most of the troops, part of 22 battalions, had crossed into the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, after massing at five different border points. The offensive comes a day after militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) killed 24 Turkish soldiers and wounded 18 in simultaneous attacks near the border. The attacks were the worst single loss of life for the army since 1993.
It was Turkey’s largest such offensive since February 2008, when thousands of ground forces staged a weeklong offensive into Iraq on snow-covered mountains.
The military said the soldiers in the current operation are commandos, special forces and paramilitary special forces – making it an elite force trained in guerrilla warfare. They are being reinforced by F-16 and F-4 warplanes, Super Cobra helicopter gunships and surveillance drones.