Last weekend, the Turkish army found 13 bodies of abducted Turks in a cave in northern Iraq. They were allegedly executed by the terrorist organization PKK. According to the Secretary of Defense Akar, 12 men were shot in the head and another in the shoulder.
On Saturday, Turkey reported that it would be thirteen Turkish citizens. Later, intelligence sources showed that they were members of Turkish intelligence, military and police. The men were abducted a few years ago, presumably in 2015 and 2016, which had been kept silent for security reasons. Turkey was trying to get them out.
The PKK, which seeks more autonomy and rights for Kurds within Turkey, denies having killed the men. In a statement on a PKK website, the terror group says that they are prisoners of war, but that they were killed in fighting in the area.
The Turkish army started a military operation last week in the mountains in northern Iraq. Theres been a heavy fight. According to Turkish defence, 48 PKK fighters and three Turkish soldiers were killed.
The government spokesman reported yesterday on Twitter that Turkey is mourning the deaths of the 13 men and that it will actively go after “any terrorist who is still hiding in the caves”.
Turkey has been fighting the armed Kurdish terror movement PKK for years. “Lately, this battle has been taking place mainly in northern Iraq, where the PKK summit is hiding in the mountains,” says correspondent Mitra Nazar. “Turkey has seen the PKK as one of the biggest threats to security in the country for decades. In the past, the PKK has committed attacks in, among others, Istanbul and Ankara.”
According to the Turkish Government, the PKK is planning new attacks from northern Iraq. “The Turkish army started Operation Claw last year, focused on targets in northern Iraq. There are regular air strikes on suspected PKK targets. There are also regular civilian casualties.”
What exactly happened to the thirteen Turkish hostages is difficult to verify, Nazar emphasises. “We can only go on what Turkish authorities report. The bodies have been found, but how these men died is uncertain.”
Call for in-depth investigation
The PKK is more likely to hold people who use them to negotiate with the Turkish army. In most cases, hostages are released over time.
The Turkish humanitarian organisation IHD says that it has assisted the families of these hostages in recent years and has tried to release the men. But the organization says they were not supported by the Turkish government. IHD now calls for a thorough investigation into what exactly happened.