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Security Forces Kill 8 PKK Militants in Eastern Turkey | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Eight PKK militants were killed during an operation in eastern Turkey. (AFP)

Eight members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were killed in eastern Turkey during a security operation in the area, reported the state-run Anadolu Agency on Sunday.

Security forces were searching for another militant who was believed to be on the run after the operation, the governor of the eastern Kars province, Rahmi Dogan, was quoted as saying.

“Eight terrorists were killed and the security forces are searching for another terrorist who is on the run,” he said.

A ceasefire between the Turkish state and the militants broke down in July 2015 and the southeast subsequently saw some of the worst violence since the PKK insurgency began in 1984.

More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed in the conflict. The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Earlier on Sunday, Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the battle to capture the ISIS group’s Syrian bastion Raqqa started two days ago, reported Anadolu.

Yildirim appeared to contradict comments Saturday from the Kurdish-Arab alliance battling the extremists that the push into the northern Syrian city would “begin in a few days”.

“The long-planned Raqqa operation began late on June 2,” after the US informed Turkey of the operation, Yildirim said, without providing further details.

He was referring to the latest thrust in a drive by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to close in on Raqqa that began in November.

The SDF is a Kurdish-Syrian Arab alliance including fighters from the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a “terror group” linked to PKK separatists inside Turkey.

SDF seized a town and dam to the west of Raqqa this weekend.

“We will begin in a few days,” said Jihan Sheikh Ahmed, spokeswoman for the SDF’s “Wrath of the Euphrates” operation to capture Raqa, speaking Saturday.

The Raqqa operation has been a deep source of tension between Washington and Ankara because of US support to YPG, which has included air cover, assistance from special forces on the ground and weaponry.

The US said last week it began sending arms to Kurdish fighters, which Turkey said was “extremely dangerous” and urged Washington to reverse the decision.

Washington views the YPG as the most effective fighting force against ISIS.