Turkey Seeks to Bar PKK From North Iraq Border

45 PKK killed so far in offensive

Turkish officials reported to the media that the goals of the new offensive against the PKK in northern Iraq is aimed at effectively blocking all PKK access to the Iraq-Turkey border. They believe the PKK intended attacks inside Turkey.

The first week of fighting has seen 45 PKK members killed, along with four Turkish soldiers. The bulk of the PKK casualties came from airstrikes into the PKK-held area.

Turkey seems to view controlling the border as capping off years of fighting against the PKK in Iraq, even though the offensives began long before the PKK really had a large presence in Iraq. It was only a failed ceasefire and peace talks that got the PKK to agree to relocate a lot of its fighters across the border to maintain the calm.

Recent anti-PKK offensives have been less about winning and more about the Turkish military proving it can campaign in Iraq, and that Iraqi objections won’t impact them. Though border control raises the hope of an end-game, it is more likely this is just the narrative on one offensive, as opposed to long-term policy.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.