UPDATES WITH CONDOLENCES FROM US
By Anadolu Agency Staff
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey received messages of condolence from around the world over a terror attack in which 13 Turkish citizens were martyred by the PKK terrorist organization in Iraq’s northern Gara region.
The bodies of the Turkish citizens were found during Turkey’s anti-terror operation in northern Iraq, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Sunday.
Turkey launched Operation Claw-Eagle 2 on Feb. 10 to prevent the PKK/KCK and other terror groups from re-establishing positions used to carry out cross-border terror attacks.
Operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle were initiated last June to ensure the safety of Turks and Turkey's borders.
The US State Department issued a statement on the incident, saying America stands with its NATO ally Turkey and offered its condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in northern Iraq.
The United States deplores the death of Turkish citizens […] We stand with our NATO Ally Turkey and extend our condolences to the families of those lost in the recent fighting. If reports of the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization, are confirmed, we condemn this action in the strongest possible terms," it said.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev conveyed his condolences to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the attack.
“We are extremely outraged by this horrific act of terrorism against civilians and strongly condemn all manifestations of terrorism.”
“On the occasion of this tragedy, on my own behalf and on behalf of the people of Azerbaijan, I extend my deepest condolences to you, the families and the loved ones of those who were killed and the brotherly people of Turkey,” he added.
Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Turkey Khazar Ibrahim also extended his condolences to Turkey, in a statement on Twitter.
“Those who fought against Azerbaijani military in Karabakh were the same terrorists," he added.
Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar, Prime Minister Ersan Saner and Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu also offered their condolences.
Tatar condemned the terror attack and said: “On behalf of myself and the Turkish Cypriot people, I extend my condolences to 13 brothers and their families, relatives and the Turkish nation.”
In a statement, Saner called on all countries to cooperate in order to wipe out terrorism as soon as possible.
“I wish God's mercy upon our 13 brothers who were martyred by the treacherous PKK terrorist organization in Gara and our heroic soldiers who were martyred in Operation Claw-Eagle 2,” said the country’s foreign minister on Twitter.
“I was deeply saddened by the news that Turkish soldiers and civilians lost their lives in northern Iraq. I offer our condolences to Turkey and allies and to those affected at this difficult time,” said British Ambassador to Turkey Dominick Chilcott on Twitter.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry issued an official statement on the incident.
"Pakistan condemns in the strongest terms the heinous act of terrorism in which 13 Turkish nationals were martyred in Gara, Iraq," it said.
The Pakistan Embassy in Ankara said on Twitter: “We strongly condemn the heinous atrocity committed by PKK which abducted and later martyred 13 Turkish citizens. Our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and the Turkish nation.”
Somali Justice Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur offered his condolences to Turkey, saying: “Just like Turkey, Somalia has been fighting terrorism for many years and has given hundreds of thousands of innocent victims to terrorism.”
“So, as a Somali, I deeply feel and share the pain of the Turkish nation,” he added.
Bulgaria's Muslim affairs authority also conveyed its condolences to Turkey over the attack.
“We strongly condemn the brutal murder of 13 Turkish civilians kidnapped by the PKK terrorist organization in the Gara region of northern Iraq.”
– Operation concludes
Forty-eight PKK terrorists, including two senior members, were neutralized during the “extremely special and critical" operation in the Gara region, the Turkish defense chief said.
Akar said the region was mostly cleared of the terror group.
"The operation has been completed. Our land and air elements returned to their bases and barracks safely.”
During the campaign, more than 50 terror targets, including ammunition depots, caves and bases in Gara were destroyed, he added.
Three Turkish soldiers were martyred and three others injured in the land operation, noted Akar.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.