The General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces yesterday published a list of forbidden zones in several southeastern provinces of Turkey, effectively sealing off the area along the Iraqi border in a depth of 20 to 30 kilometers.
Another restricted area will be enforced near the town of Dicle in Diyarbakir province. Moreover, the air space over the restricted zones will also be closed up to 14,000 feet (about 4,300 meters). The closures will be effective from next Monday, 3 Oct until 3 Jan 2012. No reason for the measure is given on the website of the general staff.
Turkish armed forces and police have increased their activities to combat Kurdish insurgents in the Turkish-Iraqi border area since the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) has committed several cross-border raids, targeting army and police installations in recent months. A series of bomb attacks by the PKK was followed by weeks of retaliatory operations by the Turkish army and air force along the border and inside Iraqi Kurdistan.
Yesterday, Turkish media reported another clash between PKK fighters and the army in Hakkari province, which led to the killing of an insurgent commander.
The declaration of a military restricted zone of such dimensions – including closure of the airspace – points to an upcoming large-scale military operation over the coming months to root out operational bases of the PKK and other insurgent organizations.
Meanwhile the flow of crude oil from Iraq to Turkey, about 600,000 barrels a day, came to a halt. The interruption was explained by the Iraqi side by a “corroded pipeline.”