KURDISTAN Workers’ Party (PKK) guerilla fighters have launched a winter offensive against Turkey’s occupying forces in Iraqi Kurdistan, the organisation said yesterday.
The new offensive comes as evidence of Ankara’s alleged use of chemical weapons in the region continues to mount.
PKK officials told the Morning Star that the resistance was not merely defensive and that Kurdish forces were mobilising “as part of the global fight to defeat fascism.”
At least four Turkish soldiers were killed during a guerilla attack on Sunday, the PKK said in a statement as it released the results of a number of recent operations in Kurdish territory.
Turkish jets pummelled positions in the Zap mountains for four continuous days at the end of last week, although no casualties were reported.
Battle has raged in the mountainous Duhok region of Iraqi Kurdistan since Turkey launched Operation Claw Lightning in April.
For eight months it has been bogged down, failing to make the advances it anticipated in the face of fierce resistance from Kurdish guerilla fighters, who are largely based in the Avashin mountain range.
Despite having some of the world’s most advanced military technology, the Nato member state has been forced to use unconventional methods, including the alleged use of chemical weapons.
“It is using drones with machine guns, fighter jets, artillery and even robotic dogs and small remote-controlled cars in the guerilla tunnels,” PKK officials explained.
In May a report by the Star on the potential use of chemical weapons by Turkey in Iraqi Kurdistan led to calls for a commission of inquiry in the Turkish parliament by the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which was predictably rebuffed.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has similarly refused to investigate the allegations despite appeals from Kurdish organisations including the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK).
The Christian Peacemaker Teams, an NGO which has monitored Turkey’s bombing of Iraqi Kurdistan for 13 years, also believes it is likely that chemicals have been used.
The Star has visited the affected areas and met the victims of alleged chemical weapons attacks.
Many described burning sensations, with their skin appearing marked and red following Turkish artillery fire on their villages in Duhok province.
A number have been treated at local hospitals and medical facilities for breathing difficulties and other symptoms as a result of suspected chemical attacks.
But medics told the Star that they had been threatened by Kurdistan Democratic Party officials, who forced them to change their initial medical reports.
“We know the signs and symptoms of chemical attacks, especially in this region,” they told the Star on strict condition of anonymity. “It is part of our training and we have seen many patients.”