A Turkish soldier was killed and three others were injured in a blast caused by an improvised explosive device planted by Kurdish militants during Operation Claw-Lock in northern Iraq, local media reported on Friday, citing Turkey’s Defense Ministry.
Operation Claw-Lock, an air and ground offensive that targets hideouts of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Metina region of Iraq, was launched on April 18.
The ministry said in a written statement on Friday that infantry private Selman Güler was killed and three other soldiers were injured in a blast caused by an IED planted by PKK militants, offering condolences to the family of Güler, the Turkish Armed Forces and the Turkish nation and wishing a speedy recovery to the three soldiers receiving treatment at a hospital.
Designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU and the US, the PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Operation Claw-Lock was launched two days after a rare visit to Turkey by Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, suggesting that he had been briefed on Ankara’s plans.
Barzani said after his talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that he welcomed “expanding cooperation to promote security and stability” in northern Iraq.
The government of Iraq’s Kurdistan has an uneasy relationship with the PKK militants, whose presence complicates the region’s lucrative trade ties with Turkey.
But the offensives have added strains to Ankara’s ties with Iraq’s central government in Baghdad, which accuses Turkey of failing to respect the war-torn country’s territorial integrity.