Operation Hammer (1997)

Operation Hammer (Turkish: Çekiç Harekâtı) was a cross-border operation by the Turkish Armed Forces into northern Iraq between 12 May and 7 July 1997 against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Operation Hammer
Part of the Kurdish–Turkish conflict and Iraqi Kurdish Civil War
Date12 May – 7 July 1997
Result Operation unsuccessful[1]


Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)[2]

Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)[3]
Commanders and leaders
Altay Tokat[4] Ali Haydar Kaytan[5]
30,000[6]–50,000 soldiers[2]
10,000 village guards[6]
5,000–6,000 PKK fighters[4]
Casualties and losses

114 killed, 338 wounded[7]
~200 killed[8]

Total: 314 killed


2,730 killed, 415 captured (Turkish claim)[7]

The operation's objectives were to destroy PKK units in northern Iraq, to strengthen Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party in its ongoing Civil War with Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in the hope that the KDP would prevent further PKK raids into Turkey, and to counter Iranian influence in the region as Turkey accused Iran of supporting the PKK, and over 2,000 Iranian forces had entered Iraqi Kurdistan that year to aid the PUK.[9]

The operation ended unsuccessfully and it led to another operation, Operation Dawn (1997).[10]


Some 30[11]-50[2] thousand Turkish forces entered Iraq on 14 May in response to an appeal by the Kurdistan Democratic Party for support in its offensive against the PKK.[2] On 19 May, the KDP launched a military operation to evacuate all PKK fighters from their capital in Arbil,[11] which turned into a major battle in which 53 KDP and 58 PKK fighters were killed. In response the PKK ordered four suicide bombings from 1 to 11 June which resulted in the death of 55 KDP fighters.[8] By 7 July, when Turkish forces withdrew, over 2,000 PKK and at least 200 KDP forces had been killed.[8]

The operation drew strong condemnation from Iraq, Iran and Syria.[2]


More than 30,000 troops took part in the initial operation.[12] Turkey announced fatalities at a total of 114 personnel, comprising 14 commissioned officers, 4 non-commissioned officers, 75 soldiers and 21 village guards. Turkey announced the injured at a total of 185 personnel, comprising 24 commissioned officers 17 non-commissioned officers, 338 soldiers and 48 village guards. Turkey announced the total number of militants neutralized at a total of 3,145 with 2,730 being killed and 415 being captured live or injured.[7]

Turkey launched another large-scale operation in September known as Operation Dawn.[13]

International reaction

  • Iran: The Iranian government condemned the invasion "as not only a violation of all international laws but the sovereign rights and territorial integrity of the Iraqi Muslim nation" and denounced Turkish claims of Iranian support for the PKK as "a joint conspiracy by the Turkish military and Israel."[9]

See also


  1. "Hitting the Kurds from All Sides". TIME. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  2. The Europa World Year: Kazakhstan – Zimbabwe. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  3. Aylin Ünver Noi, 1 July 2012, THE ARAB SPRING, ITS EFFECTS ON THE KURDS, AND THE APPROACHES OF TURKEY, IRAN, SYRIA, AND IRAQ ON THE KURDISH ISSUE, The Global Research in International Affairs Center
  4. Tokat, Altay (2013). Mücadele ve Çözüm (PKK Bölücü Terörü).
  5. Michael M. Gunter, (1997). The Kurds and the Future of Turkey. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780312172657
  6. "(page 155)" (PDF). Helsinki.fi. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  7. "Çekiç harekatı (12 Mayıs – 7 July 1997)". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  8. Chronology for Kurds in Iraq Archived 17 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, UNHCR
  9. Gunter, Michael M. (1 March 1998). "Turkey and Iran Face off in Kurdistan". Middle East Quarterly. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  10. "Hitting the Kurds from All Sides". TIME. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  11. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld – Chronology for Kurds in Turkey". Refworld. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  12. "Turkey withdraws bulk of troops from Iraq." Associated Press, 21 June 1997.
  13. "PDF2" (PDF). AsylumLaw.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2017.

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