Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today, Tuesday, that Turkey will expand operations to confront the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) militants across the border after the killing of 13 Turks who were kidnapped in northern Iraq.
On Sunday, Turkey said that militants from its terrorist group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), had killed the abductees during a military operation targeting the group.
Erdogan repeated his country's complaint that it was not getting enough international solidarity, and said at a conference of his Justice and Development Party in Trabzon, which overlooks the Black Sea, "Whether we speak or not, we know our duty. We will not give terrorists a chance."
"We will extend our operations to areas where the threats are still significant ... and we will remain in the areas we secure as long as necessary to prevent the recurrence of similar attacks," he added.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has been waging a decades-old insurgency in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey.
The conflict has claimed more than 40,000 lives.
During the past two years, Turkey has launched several cross-border operations to fight the group in northern Iraq, where its stronghold is in the Qandil Mountains.
The United States told Ankara on Monday that it blamed the PKK for the killing of the 13 Turks, after Turkey described an earlier US statement regarding the incident as a "joke" and the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador to Ankara.
In a related context, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Tuesday that the military operations carried out by his country's forces against the PKK in northern Iraq "continue unabated."
This came during a briefing of Turkish parliament leaders about the details of the military operation "Eagle Claw 2" in northern Iraq, during which the bodies of the kidnapped Turks were found.
The Turkish Minister of Defense presented to Parliament a presentation on the raid on the cave in which the kidnapped Turks were killed (Anadolu Agency)
Akar said, "The Special Forces forces carried out an operation to rescue the Turkish hostages. At first, they called two terrorists there to surrender, but they responded by shooting."
He explained that the Turkish forces decided after that to raid the cave, where they proceeded with great caution, and clashed with the militants, before reaching the section where they found the bodies of the 13 victims.
Akar showed Turkish MPs pictures of the cave, stressing the difficulty of the process, as the area is mountainous.
In conclusion, he stressed that the Turkish armed forces continue to contribute to efforts to bring peace and stability through their work in large geographical areas, such as Syria, northern Iraq, Libya, the eastern Mediterranean and the Karabakh region.