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Iran Press TV

Hundreds of people leave conflict-ridden area in southeast Turkey

Iran Press TV

Wed Feb 3, 2016 5:42PM

Hundreds of people have escaped their homes in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, which has been the scene of deadly clashes between the army and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Residents of the conflict-hit district of Sur in the city fled the area on Wednesday after a week-old curfew in the district's western parts was lifted.

According to witnesses, people deserted Sur with their belongings loaded onto trucks and handcarts. Sur has suffered heavy damage in the clashes since a curfew was declared there a month ago.

'It's always the ordinary people who suffer,' said Mehmet Ceylan while leaving the area, adding, 'I've lived in Sur for years, and I've never witnessed a scene like this.'

The development comes as the eastern side of Sur has remained under a round-the-clock curfew.

Ankara says the curfews in the Kurdish-majority southeast are needed to allow security forces remove barricades, explosive devices and ditches set up by PKK militants.

Turkey has been engaged in a large-scale campaign against the PKK in its southern border region in the past few months. The Turkish military has also been conducting offensives against the positions of the group in northern Iraq. The PKK is an outlawed group that has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since 1980s.

The Turkish army said its forces killed five PKK militants in Sur and seven others in the southeastern town of Cizre on Tuesday. The latest fatalities brought the militant death toll in the two towns to 670 since December.

On July 20 last year, a bomb attack in the southern Kurdish-majority town of Suruc claimed more than 30 lives. The Turkish government blamed it on the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group. After the bombing, the PKK, accusing the government of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of supposed reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, in turn prompting the Turkish military operations.

Ankara's military has also been involved in an offensive against positions of the Kurdish group in neighboring Iraq.

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