Military source says captured PKK members testify to effectiveness of air assault on bases.
Turkish airstrikes on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) camps have dealt the “heaviest blow” in the group’s history, according to the Turkish military on Wednesday, citing the accounts of captured insurgents.
On July 22, the Turkish air force began strikes on PKK positions in Turkey and northern Iraq. According to the Turkish General Staff, around 770 militants have been killed in operations.
The military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the statements of PKK fighters revealed many had fled Turkey while others were ready to surrender.
The group had “suffered the worst blow in its history as a result of the airstrikes that began on July 22,” the source said, and the impact of the air strikes had “completely demoralized” the fighters.
According to the military source, the PKK -- designated a terror organization by Turkey, the EU and U.S. -- is facing increased difficulty recruiting members and has led to the recruitment of children through kidnapping and bribery. The source cited a captured PKK member as telling his interrogators that some of these children had been killed in recent operations.
The remains of PKK members killed in strikes on the Qandil and Hakurk regions of northern Iraq have been left decomposing because of fears of further airstrikes, according to the military source.
Meanwhile, a security source claimed Cemil Bayik, a PKK leader, had fled from northern Iraq to Iran, following in the footsteps of fellow leader, Murat Karayilan.
The source did not say when the men left but Bayik was interviewed in Iraq by a British newspaper for an article that appeared on Aug. 17.
Renewed violence in southern and eastern Turkey erupted in the aftermath of the July 20 Suruc bombing that killed 33 pro-Kurdish activists -- ending a fragile two-and-a-half year lull to fighting.
Since then, the conflict has left more than 60 Turkish police and soldiers martyred and around 770 PKK militants dead, according to official Turkish accounts.
Resource: Anadolu Agency, August 26, 2015