TURKEY – A growing civil war (En–Fr)


The map shows the main developments in the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds of the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) of the period from the 1st of November to the 31st of December 2016 in Turkey and northern Syria and Iraq.

Click on map to see full details

The insurgency of the Kurdish PKK and its armed wing HPG (Hêzên Parastina Gel, People’s Defence Force, in Turkey) has intensified throughout 2016 in southeastern Turkey, causing a tightening of the Turkish government’s military and administrative repression. They regained control of cities like Cizre, Nusaybin, Sirnak or Diyarbakir at the price of major destruction. Many mountainous and rural areas, however, are under de facto control of the insurgency.

Another Kurdish separatist group, the TAK (Kurdistan Freedom Falcons), with unconventional methods of action (suicide attacks, car bombs), intensified their actions and committed several attacks against the Turkish security forces, including December 10 bombing in Istanbul, which left 45 dead (it is worth noting that neither the PKK, nor the TAK target civilians).

In Iraq, Turkey has good relations with the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is dominated by the PDK (Kurdistan Democratic Party) that is opposed to the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which supports the PKK). Turkey has set up several military bases to intervene more effectively against the PKK’s bases in the mountains of northern Iraqi Kurdistan (MDZ). More recently, the Turks obtained from the KRG the departure of PKK-linked YBS (a Yazidi militia) from the city of Sinjar (although they still control the region).

In Syria, the YPG are controlling a large area in northern Syria together with the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), considered by Turkey as an extension of the PKK (which is indeed the case).

The Turks regularly bombard YPG positions along the border. Since the summer of 2016, Turkey has supported a military operation (“Euphrates Shield”) in the Aleppo governorate of Syria, whose objective is to expel “terrorists” from this area.

This has led Turkey not only to attack the Islamic state, but also the SDF present in the region of Manbij, with the aim of preventing the territorial unification of the three Syrian Kurdish cantons, thereby keeping Afrin, which is the most westwards of the cantons, isolated from the rest of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan).

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La carte présente le développement du conflit entre la Turquie et les Kurdes du PKK (le Parti des Travailleurs du Kurdistan) et ses ramifications régionales, entre le 1er novembre et le 31 décembre 2016, en Turquie et dans le nord de la Syrie et de l’Irak.

L’insurrection du PKK et de ses bras armés, le HPG notamment (Hêzên Parastina Gel, Force de Défense du Peuple, en Turquie), s’est accentuée tout au long de l’année 2016 dans le sud-est de la Turquie provoquant un durcissement de la répression militaire et administrative du gouvernement turc et la reprise en main de villes comme Cizre, Nusaybin, Sirnak ou Diyarbakir au prix de destructions importantes. De nombreuses zones montagneuses et rurales sont toutefois sous le contrôle de facto de l’insurrection.

Un autre groupe séparatiste kurde, les TAK (Kurdistan Freedom Falcons), aux méthodes d’action non conventionnelles (attaques suicides, voitures piégées), ont accentué leurs actions et ont commis plusieurs attentats contre les forces de sécurité turques, dont celui d’Istanbul, le 10 décembre 2016, qui a fait 45 morts (il est à noter que ni le PKK, ni le TAK ne s’en prennent aux civils).

En Iraq, la Turquie a de bonnes relations avec le Gouvernement Régional du Kurdistan autonome (KRG) dominé par le PDK (Parti démocratique du Kurdistan, en opposition avec l’UPK, l’Union patriotique du Kurdistan qui soutient le PKK), et a installé plusieurs bases militaires afin de pouvoir intervenir plus efficacement contre les bases arrière du PKK dans les montagnes du nord du Kurdistan iraquien. Plus récemment, les turcs ont obtenu du KRG le départ de la région de Sinjar des Yazidis du YBS, aussi liés au PKK (qui continue néanmoins de contrôler la région).

En Syrie, en revanche, le YPG, qui contrôle avec les SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) une large zone dans le nord du pays, et qui profite de l’appui américain, est considéré par la Turquie comme une extension du PKK (c’est effectivement le cas).

Les Turcs bombardent régulièrement les troupes kurdes le long de la frontière syrienne. Depuis l’été 2016, la Turquie mène une opération militaire dans le gouvernorat d’Alep en Syrie (« Euphrates Shield »), dont l’objectif est d’expulser les « terroristes » (kurdes) de la zone.

Ceci a conduit la Turquie à s’attaquer à l’État islamique, mais aussi aux SDF, présents dans la région de Manbij, avec pour objectif d’empêcher l’unification territoriale des trois cantons kurdes de Syrie, le canton d’Afrine, le plus à l’ouest, restant ainsi isolé du reste du Rojava (le Kurdistan syrien).


About Author

Emmanuel Pène

Cartographer, Historian and Economist, Founder of the website agathocledesyracuse.com Director of Consulting Services


    • Hello Emmanuel,

      A few hours ago, a powerful blast occurred at the entrance of the Izmir courthouse. Although no one officially claimed responsibility for this, perpetrators are seemingly PKK members. I will keep you updated -considering what we are going through these days. Turkey is turning into a bloodbath with PKK’s and TAK’s incursions, yet it is still possible to see people claiming PKK does not target civilians. This is preposterous.

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  5. sinan arslanturk on

    First of all,TAK is just another name PKK gave to one of its branches as it attacks in major cities and is no different than PKK.Secondly,you are absolotuley wrong by stating PKK and its branch TAK do not attack civillians.They claimed responsibility on the courthouse attack in İzmir which killed a court worker along with a traffic Kurdish policeman and injured several lawyers.They want to appear they are attacking armed forces but on all their attacks,they killed many civillians knowing that those civillians would be there during the attack.İ think you should correct your article

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