Operation Claw-Lock

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Operation Claw-Lock
Part of the Kurdish–Turkish conflict (1978-present)
Date17 April 2022 – present
(4 months, 3 weeks and 5 days)
Metina, Zap and Avashin Basyan regions, Duhok, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
Result Ongoing
Supported by:
Flag of KDP.png KDP (Turkey and PKK claim)[1][2]

Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK)

Commanders and leaders

Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Turkey Hasan Küçükakyüz
Turkey Hulusi Akar

Turkey Yaşar Güler

Cemîl Bayik

Murat Karayılan
Units involved

Turkey Turkish Armed Forces



Turkey ~15,000 personnel[4]

Casualties and losses

55 killed (per Turkey)[6]

1,871 killed (per PKK)[7]

371 killed or captured (per Turkey)[8]

84 killed (per PKK)[9]
8 tourists were killed and more than 20 civilians were injured

Operation Claw-Lock (Turkish: Pençe-Kilit Operasyonu) is an ongoing military operation of the Turkish Armed Forces in northern Iraq. The operation is taking place in the Duhok Governorate against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), as part of the ongoing Kurdish–Turkish conflict.[10]


The Turkish Armed Forces have been conducting cross-border military operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Northern Iraq since the 1980s.[11][12][13] Since 2019, Turkey has begun conducting operations codenamed Claw, including Claw Eagle and Tiger in 2020 and Claw-Lighting and Thunderbolt in 2021.[14] According to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, the current operation targets positions in the areas Metina, Zap and Avashin and is carried out in cooperation with their allies.[15][12][16]

Before the operation was launched, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masrour Barzani, and according to Al-Monitor briefed the latter on the operation.[14][16][17]

Turkish authorities said that the objective of the operation was to prevent a major attack by the PKK.[18][19][20] Ömer Çelik of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) reasoned the PKK planned to establish new bases near the border of Turkey and defended the cross-border military operations into neighboring countries like Iraq or Syria[14] as self defense enshrined within Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.[14][21]


At the start of the operation, Turkish aircraft bombed several Kurdish villages in Duhok.[22] The ground incursion began on 18 April 2022, with the support of artillery, drones and aircraft.[23][24][25] Airstrikes struck caves, tunnels and ammunition depots controlled by the PKK while Turkish Special Forces entered the region by land or were airlifted by helicopters.[13] While the Turkish Defense Ministry announced that fifty targets were hit and all their initial objectives were achieved,[25] the PKK claimed to have repulsed some of the Turkish landing attempts.[26] A PKK affiliated source reported that helicopters used in the operation were based within the Kurdistan Region (KRI).[22] On the 22 April 2022, the Turkish Air Force extended the operation, flying sorties to the Sulaymaniyah province in the KRI against suspected PKK positions.[27]

On 20 July, Iraqi Kurdish officials said that Turkey had shelled a resort in Zakho District, killing at least eight tourists and wounding more than 20 civilians.[28] Among the dead were reported to be a woman and a child.[29]

Casualties and losses[edit]

The Turkish Defense Ministry announced that during the operation five Turkish personnel had been killed, while claiming that PKK had suffered dozens of casualties (the last report by the MoD was on 23 April claiming 54 militants killed or captured). The People's Defence Forces (HPG) Press Center announced that seven of its fighters had been killed during the first two days of the operation, while claiming to have killed 62 Turkish personnel and shooting down two helicopters.[30][31]


In Turkey[edit]

The Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) considers the operation as being contrary to international law, and accused Turkey of hypocrisy for presenting itself as a peacemaker in the war between Russia and Ukraine.[14]

In Iraq[edit]

Iraqi President Barham Salih condemned the attack and demanded Turkey to end the operation and withdraw all of its forces from Iraqi territory deeming it a "threat to our national security".[32] The Iraqi foreign minister said the operation was a violation of Iraq's sovereignty.[33] Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the largest faction in parliament said that if Turkey has security concerns, it should discuss them with the Iraqi Government and considered its military strong enough to take care of the issue.[33][34]

Senior PKK commander Duran Kalkan called on Turkey to immediately halt its operation, threatening that otherwise it would "move the war to Turkish cities".[35] On the 19 May, the Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations Security Council Hussein Bahr Aluloom filed a formal complaint before the council and called for the withdrawal of the Turkish military as the presence of the PKK should be taken a pretext to remain to Iraqi territory for the Turkish army.[36][37] In an interview with Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, PKK spokesman Zagros Hiwa accused Turkey of attempting to fashion "a new kind of Ottoman Empire", and that Erdogan represented an "expansionist, Ottoman mentality".[38]

Impact on Iraq-Turkey relations[edit]

Erdogan claimed to have the approval of both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq during a speech in the Turkish Parliament, this however, was rebuked by officials of the Ministry of the Peshmerga of the KRG as well as the Iraqi Government which denied the operation was in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter.[39][40] Both countries summoned each other's corresponding diplomats. The Turkish ambassador to Iraq was summoned to the Iraqi foreign ministry and delivered a diplomatic note demanding the end of the operation, claiming the presence of the PKK in Iraq was in accordance of an agreement between Turkey and the PKK.[41] The Iraqi envoy to Turkey was summoned to convey Turkey's displeasure with "unfounded allegations" following Erdogan's speech in the Turkish parliament.[42]


In the United Kingdom Kurdish people egged Masrour Barzani's convoy for not having made any statement regarding the Turkish military operation.[43] Rallies against the operation were also held in Marseille, France[44] and several cities in Germany.[45] In Frankfurt the police confiscated several flags of the Syrian Peoples Defense Units (YPG), the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) and flags in with the colors Green, Yellow and Red.[46] In May, German Minister of Food and Agriculture Cem Özdemir compared Turkey's behavior to that of Russia, in that whenever they had problems in the interior, such as a trailing economy or a difficult political situation, they resort to creating international conflicts instead of trying to enhance bilateral relations with neighboring countries.[47]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chenar Chalak (20 April 2022). "Erdogan thanks Iraqi, Kurdish authorities for 'support' of anti-PKK operation". Rudaw.
  2. ^ "Avaşin ve Zap'a işgal saldırısı: 28 işgalci cezalandırıldı, 2 helikopter darbelendi!". ANF Turkish. 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  3. ^ "Son dakika: PKK'ya 'Pençe-Kilit' operasyonu başladı! Bakan Akar: Hedeflerin tamamı ele geçirildi". Hürriyet. 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d "'Pençe Kilit Operasyonu'nda Zap'a 15 bine yakın profesyonel personelle inildi!'". SuperHaber. 18 April 2022. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Zap'ta PKK'ya hem Pençe hem Kilit! Etkisiz hale getirilen terörist sayısı yükseldi". Hürriyet. 19 April 2022. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  6. ^ "A Turkish servicemen was killed in northern Iraq". 8 September 2022.
  7. ^ "HPG'den 3 aylık savaş bilançosu: 1528 işgalci cezalandırıldı".
  8. ^ "Pençe-Kilit Operasyonu'nda 3 ayda 290 PKK'lı etkisiz hale getirildi".
  9. ^ 4, 2, 4, 2, 8, 2, 4, 5, 3, 3, 6, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 1, 2
  10. ^ "Turkey launches new ground, air offensive in northern Iraq". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  11. ^ "Sınır ötesi operasyonlar 1983'te başladı- CNN TÜRK - tarafsız güvenilir haberler". 2016-03-04. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  12. ^ a b "Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq- state news agency". Swissinfo. Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  13. ^ a b "Turkey launches new ground, air offensive in northern Iraq". Associated Press. 2022-04-18. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  14. ^ a b c d e Ertan, Nazlan (18 April 2022). "Turkey launches offensive against PKK targets in northern Iraq - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 2022-04-19.
  15. ^ "Turkey says its warplanes hit Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq". Arab News. 2022-04-18. Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  16. ^ a b "Turkey launches new offensive against Kurdish militants in Iraq". Deutsche Welle. 18 April 2022. Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  17. ^ "La Turquie lance une nouvelle offensive contre le PKK en Irak". Le Monde (in French). 2022-04-18. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  18. ^ "Turkey launches new offensive against Kurdish rebels in Iraq". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  19. ^ "Turkey says its warplanes hit Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq". Reuters. 2022-04-17. Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  20. ^ "Türkei beginnt neue Offensive gegen PKK im Nordirak". Die Zeit. Retrieved 2022-04-19.
  21. ^ Rosa, Burç (25 April 2022). "Warum verurteilen wir den Krieg Russlands, aber nicht den der Türkei?". Die Zeit. Retrieved 2022-04-25.
  22. ^ a b "Turkish warplanes heavily bombard Kurdish villages in northern Duhok". Rudaw. 17 April 2022. Retrieved 2022-04-20.
  23. ^ Bayar, Gözde (19 April 2022). "Turkiye 'neutralizes' 26 PKK terrorists in northern Iraq". Anadolu Ajansı. Retrieved 2022-04-20.
  24. ^ "Turkey launches ground and air strikes in northern Iraq against PKK". The National. 2022-04-18. Retrieved 2022-04-20.
  25. ^ a b "Turkey launches major offensive into PKK targets in Northern Iraq - World News". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2022-04-20.
  26. ^ "Şikefta Birîndara'da 8 işgalci cezalandırıldı!". ANF Turkish. 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  27. ^ "Turkish fighter jets bomb alleged PKK positions in Sulaimani province". Kurdistan24. 22 April 2022. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  28. ^ "Turkish strikes in north Iraq kill 8 tourists, wound over 20". AP NEWS. 2022-07-20. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  29. ^ AFP. "Five Iraqis killed in shelling officials blame on Turkey". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  30. ^ "Commander Amed Malazgirt: The people and the guerrillas will resist and break the Turkish attack". ANF News. 20 April 2022. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  31. ^ Abdullah, Namo (19 April 2022). "Turkey Launches New Offensive Against PKK Rebels in Northern Iraq". Voice of America. Retrieved 2022-04-20.
  32. ^ "Iraq's president says Turkey's offensive into KRG 'a threat to our national security'". Bianet. 19 April 2022.
  33. ^ a b Hermann, Rainer. "Operation im Nordirak: Bagdad erzürnt über türkische Offensive gegen die PKK". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). ISSN 0174-4909. Retrieved 2022-04-19.
  34. ^ "Turkey summons Iraqi envoy over its military operation in northern Iraq". Reuters. 21 April 2022. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  35. ^ Wilks, Andrew (20 April 2022). "Bus bombing brings trauma of past terror back to Turkish cities". Al-Monitor. Archived from the original on 20 April 2022. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  36. ^ "Iraqi delegate to UN calls for Turkish troops' withdrawal". Medya News. 2022-05-20. Retrieved 2022-05-20.
  37. ^ "Iraq files complaint to UN against Turkey's incursion on its territory". abna24.com. 2022-05-19. Retrieved 2022-05-20.
  38. ^ Foss, Amund Bakke (23 May 2022). "Geriljaen i sentrum av Nato-bråket har en oppfordring til Norden". Verdens Gang. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  39. ^ Chalar, Chenek. "Erdogan thanks Iraqi, Kurdish authorities for 'support' of anti-PKK operation". Rudaw. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  40. ^ "Iraq, Peshmerga deny cooperating with Ankara to launch military operation in Duhok". Rudaw. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  41. ^ "Iraq hands Turkish ambassador 'strongly worded' diplomatic note following fresh operation". Rudaw. 19 April 2022. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  42. ^ "Erdoğan says Iraq backs Turkish operation against PKK". Ahval. 21 April 2022.
  43. ^ "Kurdish protesters hurl eggs at Masrour Barzani's convoy in London". Medya News. 2022-04-20. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  44. ^ "Türkiye'nin Pençe Kilit Operasyonu rahatsız etti! Avrupa'da skandal görüntüler". Star. 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  45. ^ "Überall Proteste gegen die türkische Invasion in Südkurdistan". Firat News (in German). Retrieved 2022-04-19.
  46. ^ ""Am ausführenden Ende einer fragwürdigen Willkürpraxis"". Firat News (in German). Retrieved 2022-04-19.
  47. ^ "German minister condemns Turkish attacks on Kurdistan Region". Rudaw. 15 May 2022. Retrieved 2022-05-20.