Suruç, month 1

July 20 bombings have opened a new phase of the armed conflict opposing Turkish forces and the Kurdish movement · PKK, Turkish army admit having lost dozens of their members · Kurdish sources blame the Turkish air force for bombing villages, killing civilians · Self-government has been unilaterally declared in Kurdish towns, districts

Turkey's North Kurdistan is immersed in a renewed armed conflict between Turkish security forces on the one side and the PKK and its related organizations on the other, only one month after a terrorist attack killed 33 in the Kurdish town of Suruç. Turkish official reports suggest the deadly attack was the work of the Islamic State (IS), but main Turkey's pro-Kurdish HDP party co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas blamed the Turkish government and the party in power, the AKP, for being involved in it, as did Cemil Baylik, executive board co-chairman of the Union of Communities of Kurdistan (KCK), an umbrella organization of the Kurdish movement.

Four days after the Suruç bombing, Ankara launched a "counter-terrorist" operation -in the words used by the Turkish government. The move was answered by the PKK by putting an end to the ceasefire that the group had maintained since 2012. Although the July 20 attack bore the imprint of Islamist terrorism, most of the operations that Turkish forces have carried out since have targetted the Kurdish movement. This has included Turkish airstrikes against PKK bases in South Kurdistan (Iraq), arrests of hundreds of people in Northern Kurdistan, and dozens, if not hundreds, of people killed, including Turkish soldiers, PKK's HPG guerrillas, and civilians too.

Although PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan asked on August 9th both sides to go back to the negotiating table, violence has not stopped. Eight Turkish soldiers were yesterday killed in Siirt province in an attack which the Turkish government blamed on the PKK. Meanwhile, the PKK-linked Firat News Agency reported that Turkish airplanes yesterday bombed villages in Kurdish rural areas. The attacks, Firat News said, caused an unspecified number of civilian casualties. The same source pointed to the death of two youths, yesterday too, in North Kurdistan in the hands of the Turkish police.

Self-government proclaimed

As a response to attacks and arrests by Turkish forces, the Kurdish movement has declared self-government in several several towns and districts of North Kurdistan, in accordance with the principles of Öcalan's ideology of democratic confederalism. These moves should not be necessarily understood as declarations of independence from Turkey, but as local self-management beyond state authority. In either case, the Turkish government does not agree with them.

The towns of Cizre and Silopi declared themselves to be self-governing in August 10th, and over the next nine days a string of autonomy declarations followed suit. In most cases, the Turkish army responded with armed interventions, aimed at collapsing the new autonomous administrations and at putting an end to the resistance by the HPG, the PKK's youth branch (YGD/H) and local self-defense groups that have emerged. Mayors have been arrested too.