As the funeral ceremonies took place for Turkish soldiers killed by Kurdish PKK guerrillas, Turkey launched further heavy air and artillery assaults on separatist camps around Kandil in northern Iraq.
At the same time Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said: “Those who do not distance themselves from terrorism will pay the price” indicating a return to a hardline stance in the fight against the rebels.
Former Turkish general staff officer and military analyst Mesut Ülker told euronews: “The operation against the Kandil Mountains is firstly very important psychologically. It’s also important in terms of the PKK’s human resources and logistics. The Turkish people will welcome this.”
He also implied that other regional powers are backing the PKK saying: “Turkey is a rising star in the region. Iran, Syria and other external forces are working to stop Turkey. The PKK is a terrorist organisation being used by those forces.”
The air and artillery strikes would seem to indicate an end to clandestine talks between the government and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, and the tough talk from Turkey’s top politicians implies an escalating military campaign.
Our correspondent in Istanbul, Bora Bayraktar, said: “Talking to experts here they all agree that Turkey’s response to the PKK will not stop with air attacks and it seems there is a strong possibility of a ground operation along the Iraqi border.”