PKK terrorists have executed 13 Turkish citizens in a cave in northern Iraq after abducting them and shooting them in the head, Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar said in a statement on Sunday.
“In preliminary investigations, it was determined that 12 of our innocent and unarmed citizens were shot in the head and martyred while another was shot in the shoulder and martyred,” he said. The grim news comes as Turkey is carrying out the Claw-Eagle 2 anti-terror operation in northern Iraq.
“While our activities in the Operation Claw-Eagle 2 area continue, in a search of a cave taken under control following intense clashes, the bodies of 13 of our abducted citizens were found,” said Akar.
According to the initial information obtained from the two terrorists captured alive, our citizens were martyred at the start of the operation by the terrorist responsible for the cave,” he said, adding that all the executors in the cave were either captured or killed.
48 terrorists were killed in the land operation, and two terrorists were captured alive, the ministry said. Among the 48 terrorists killed, there were three high-level terrorists while three Turkish soldiers were martyred and three others were injured at the beginning of the land operation.
“With the operation carried out mostly using domestically developed weaponry, the terror group was dealt a heavy blow in the (Gara) region,” Akar added.
“The operation has been completed. Our land and air elements have returned to their bases and barracks safely,” he said at the operations center on the border in southeastern Şırnak province.
Akar stressed the reason behind launching the operation was Turkey’s right to self-defense, according to international law, to prevent the PKK/KCK terror groups’ efforts to re-establish positions, which they often use to carry out cross-border attacks that target military personnel as well as civilians.
Turkey also wanted to confirm the intelligence about Turks who were abducted by terrorists, which was not disclosed for security reasons, and to take necessary measures, he said, adding that during the campaign, more than 50 terror targets, including ammunition depots, caves and bases in Gara were destroyed.
Highlighting that the operation was successfully carried out in difficult land and climatic conditions, covering a very large area, he congratulated Turkish Chief of General Staff Yaşar Güler and commanders on their efforts.
PKK terrorists often use northern Iraq as a base to plan cross-border terrorist attacks on Turkey.
Turkey launched operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle last June to ensure the safety of Turks and its national borders by eliminating terrorist threats. Operation Claw-Eagle 2 was launched on Wednesday.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK-listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU, has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.