Two Turkish soldiers were killed in a mortar attack conducted by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Wednesday in the Haftanin area of the Kurdistan Region close to the border with Turkey, a defense ministry statement from Ankara published by state media has announced.
In a statement, the ministry said Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants had mounted a “harassment attack” on Turkish troops. It said “targets identified in the region” were struck and destroyed immediately in retaliation.
Shortly after, the ministry said in a separate statement that Turkish warplanes had hit four targets in the region, killing eight PKK militants.
The PKK is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Some 40,000 people have been killed in the fight between Turkish forces and the PKK.
“Two of our soldiers were martyred and two others injured by a mortar attack by the separatist terrorist organization members in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region on March 25, 2020,” read a statement from the Turkish defense ministry via state-owned outlet TRT, using “separatist terrorist organization” to refer to the PKK.
In a separate statement posted to their official Twitter account, the defense ministry said Turkish forces retaliated by targeting four suspected PKK positions and “neutralized” eight fighters of the group. The Turkish government uses the term “neutralized” to denote death, injury, or capture of its adversaries.
The defense ministry later released the names and photos of the two soldiers killed in Haftanin.
The PKK is an armed group which has fought a decades-long war with the Turkish state for greater political and cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey. It is considered as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.
Turkey routinely launches land and air operations against the group within its borders, in the Kurdistan Region, and in Iraq’s disputed territories of Shingal and Makhmour. It also attacks Kurdish forces in northern Syria, accusing them of ties with the PKK.