U.S. embassy says ‘saddened’ by PKK killing of Turkish soldiers in Kurdistan Region

Turkish soldiers at observation post at the operation site between Ikiyaka Mountains and Daglica as Turkish Armed Forces stage operation against PKK fighters near Iraq border, in Hakkari, on August 15, 2017. (Anadolu Agency)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The U.S. Embassy to Turkey said it was “saddened” by the killing of three Turkish soldiers during an operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region’s province of Duhok. 

“Saddened by the killing of Turkish soldiers by PKK terrorists,” the U.S. embassy in Ankara said in a tweet on Friday, expressing condolence to the families of the victims.

Turkey launched the second phase of “Operation Claw-Eagle” against the PKK on Gara Mountain on Wednesday.

Three Turkish soldiers were killed and three others were wounded in clashes with the PKK fighters in the area, according to Turkey’s ministry of defense.

“We stand by our NATO ally Turkey,” the U.S. embassy in Ankara tweeted.

Turkish Consul-General in Erbil Hakan Karacay said Baghdad and Erbil had been informed of the operation ahead of time.

The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), a PKK affiliated group, said in a statement on Thursday, “Turkey cannot attack Gara Mountain without the support of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.”

The KDP denied PKK’s claims of cooperating with Turkey against the group.

The party “has nothing to do with this war and has not taken any action against the PKK to fight it or not,” KDP spokesman Mahmoud Mohammed said.

Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported that Turkey had used more than 40 jets, drones, and tanker aircraft in the offensive against the PKK’s camps, ammunition depots and caves.

The operation came after Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar paid a visit to Baghdad and Erbil in January.

“Cooperation and coordination against the PKK terrorist group play a very important role. We are ready for every possible coordination with Iraq,” Akar said.

Turkey has conducted numerous ground and aerial cross-border offensives into neighboring northern Iraq to attack PKK fighters, who maintains bases in the region.

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