The Turkish government on Wednesday imposed an indefinite curfew on at least 116 villages and hamlets in Diyarbakır province, citing an imminent offensive against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
According to a report by Kurdistan 24, the Ankara-appointed governor’s office in Diyarbakır said in a press release that the operation zone covered an area in the northern districts of Lice, Hazro, Kulp, Silvan and Kocaköy, a region several thousand square kilometers in size. People were told to stay indoors at all times until a second order.
The mountainous terrain on the provincial borders of Bingol has historically served PKK militants as a sanctuary. Since the 2015 collapse of a ceasefire and peace talks between the Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the PKK, the Turkish army has scores of times conducted large-scale operations to bring the mountains under its full control.
Apart from Diyarbakır, all of the Kurdish provinces — namely Mardin, Hakkari, Batman, Şırnak, Van, Ağrı and Dersim — continue to be highly militarized, and deadly clashes occasionally flare up.
Several thousand people, mostly PKK militants and civilians along with Turkish soldiers, have been killed in the renewed phase of the decades-long conflict, also initially fought in dozens of urban population centers for months.
The Erdoğan government has opted for the most aggressive military policy the country has taken in decades, taking the clash beyond its border. The Turkish military is conducting an intense air campaign with warplanes and armed drones on suspected PKK camps and targets in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Airstrikes there have killed dozens of civilians over the past three years.
In Syria, where US-backed Kurdish forces are battling the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Turkish military currently occupies a vast territory from west of the Euphrates River to Afrin in the northwest to prevent any Kurdish autonomy there.