ISTANBUL – Eleven soldiers were killed and 28 wounded in Turkey's east and southeast in clashes with Kurdish militants, state-run media said Saturday.
The casualties come from separate military operations in the southeastern province of Hakkari and eastern province of Van against members of the "separatist terror organization," Turkey's description of the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK. Turkey, EU and the U.S. consider the PKK a terrorist organization.
Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said three soldiers were killed and 20 wounded with three in critical condition in Hakkari Saturday morning. A Turkish Armed Forces statement said 33 Kurdish militants were killed and 30 wounded in the ongoing operations.
In a statement released Saturday, the governor's office of Van said eight soldiers were killed and eight wounded in Friday operations around Tendurek Mountain. The Turkish Armed Forces statement said 13 militants were "neutralized" in operations which Anadolu described as three airstrikes.
A precarious two and a half year ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK collapsed last summer, resuming the three-decade-long conflict that has killed an estimated 40,000 people. Since fighting resumed, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed. Rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also been killed in the clashes and tens of thousands displaced.
Turkey sent tanks across the border to Syria last month to support Free Syrian Army rebels in capturing Jarablus from the Islamic State group. The cross-border operation also aims to stall the Syrian Kurdish militants from seizing more ground in northern Syria.
Turkey contends that the U.S.-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG in Syria are an extension of the PKK. Before departing to China Friday, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "the Western world has to make a decision. Either you are standing with terror and terrorism, or you are standing against terrorism."