ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish authorities in the Kurdish province of Dersim on Monday announced a fortnight-long curfew and entry ban on 30 mostly rural areas, declaring them as “special security zones” on the grounds of fighting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
A statement by Dersim’s Ankara-appointed governor’s office said the curfew, starting from Tuesday, covers parts of five districts, among them the central one, Ovacik, Pulumur, Hozat, and Nazimiye.
The online statement read that a geographically wide-ranging military operation was underway and its objective was “to neutralize terrorist elements.”
People could not enter the locations whose coordinates were specified without an official permit from authorities.
Dersim, officially named “Tunceli (Iron Hand)” after the 1938 Turkish offensive and genocide of the local population, serves as a mountainous sanctuary for the Kurdish guerrillas fighting for self-rule.
Ankara repeatedly imposes round-the-clock curfews in dozens of Kurdish provinces since August 2015 when a two years-held peace talks and ceasefire with the PKK collapsed.
Over 2,000 people—among them Kurdish fighters, Turkish soldiers, and hundreds of civilians—have been killed in the renewed phase of the decades-long conflict, also initially fought in dozens of urban population centers for months.
Turkey is already under a nation-wide state of emergency, a measure President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration last week extended for the sixth time to counter what he labels as collaborators of the attempted coup against his rule in 2016.
Meanwhile, to Turkey’s south, the army continued to reinforce troops and tanks in the Hatay Province on the border with Syria, as Erdogan promised an imminent invasion of the Kurdish-ruled region there.
Howitzers staged constant mortar attacks on the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions in the self-administered Afrin canton.
Turkey alleges the YPG is a mere offshoot of the PKK in Syria—a view US officials refuse to share.
Erdogan vowed to crush the YPG in response to Washington’s continued support to the Kurds there and a new force the US is helping build tasked with protecting the border.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany