For the past five days, the Turkish army has been engaged in the heaviest air and ground operations of recent years against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) around Semdinli in Hakkari province.
In its largest air and ground operations in several years, the Turkish military is fighting Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels near Semdinli, in Hakkari province. Officials say the PKK planned an attack to coax the Turkish military into shelling civilian areas. Two Turkish soldiers were killed; PKK casualties total 100.
Thermal Camera Training Didn’t Help
August 1, 2012
August 1 2012
Although Turkish civilian and military authorities have been keeping quiet about the operation and have been criticized for keeping the public in the dark, it is understood that the PKK planned to seize Semdinli to trigger a wide-scale uprising in the area. This time, the PKK changed its classic modus operandi of hit-and-run guerrilla operations to capture and hold territory by infiltrating Semdinli in large numbers, attacking security forces and hoisting its flag over public buildings with the idea of lighting the fuse for a Syria-like uprising. The PKK has been training hundreds of militants on how to evade thermal cameras while infiltrating an urban area. The eight-month-long training took place in its Shehidan camp inside Iranian territory.
The PKK plan was exposed when two militants escaped from training and surrendered to Turkish authorities. They said a repetition of the failed Semdinli operation of last year was planned. At the training camp they were told that there was to be no retreat, only a fight to the end until the mission was accomplished.
PKK men were confronted by the alerted Turkish forces in big numbers when they were tried to penetrate Semdinli. Two Turkish soldiers were killed and 10 wounded in the rough terrain outside the town. The PKK sustained heavy casualties with about 100 killed in the rural area. Turkish officials say the PKK objective was to capture Semdinli and force the Turkish army to either engage in street fighting or shell their own city, thus inflicting civilian casualties. One official said: “They wanted to get on the Syrian train but missed it.”
The area is a hive of military activity. Sikorsky helicopters are ferrying troops and supplies while Cobra helicopters are strafing the rural terrain around Semdinli. Smoke covers the Goman Mountains, which are under heavy shelling. About 2,000 Turkish troops deployed around Semdinli and were supported by assault helicopters, fighter aircraft and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), all of which are expanding their operations.