Operation Steel

Operation Steel (Turkish: Çelik Harekâtı) was a cross-border operation by the Turkish Armed Forces into northern Iraq between 20 March and 4 May 1995 against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The purpose of offensive was to put a stop to the PKK cross-border raids and to crush the insurgency.[2] The PKK was not defeated in the operation.[2]

Operation Steel
Çelik Harekâtı
Part of the Kurdish–Turkish conflict
Date20 March – 4 May 1995


Turkish victory (Turkish claim)[1]

PKK victory[2](PKK claim)

  • PKK continued cross-border raids
  • Insurgency is still active
 Turkey Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
Commanders and leaders
Hasan Kundakçı Nizamettin Taş
35,000+[3] 2,400-2,800[4]
Casualties and losses

64 killed[5] 185 wounded[5]
(Turkish Claim)

800 killed[3][6]

(PKK Claim)

555 killed[5]
13 captured[5]
(Turkish Claim)

60 killed[6]

(PKK Claim)

200 civilians killed[7]

15,000 Iraqi Kurdish civilians displaced [6]

The battle

On March 20, 1995, some 35,000 Turkish troops launched an invasion into Northern Iraq. The effect of the attack was however relatively limited, despite high PKK casualties, as the majority of the PKK forces left the region before the offensive begun as they had noticed the military buildup on the border and were anticipating the offensive. By April 25, Turkey pulled out 20,000 of its 35,000 troops. After on May 3, the Kurdistan Democratic Party delegation to Turkey said they would stop PKK activities in Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey withdrew its remaining forces on May 4. The military operation strained relations between Turkey and the United States and Europe as over 15,000 Iraqi Kurdish civilians were displaced by Turkish forces.[6]


More than 35,000 troops took part in the operation.[3] Turkey announced fatalities at a total of 64 personnel made out of 4 commissioned officers, 5 noncommissioned officers and 55 soldiers. Turkey announced the injured at a total of 185 personnel made out of 13 commissioned officers 8 noncommissioned officers and 164 soldiers. Turkey announced the total number of militants neutralized at a total of 568 with 555 being killed and 13 being captured live or injured.[5] The PKK claimed they killed 261 soldiers and only 18 of their fighters were killed during the operation.[3]

See also


  1. POPE, HUGH (5 May 1995). "Most Turkish Troops Said to Be Out of Iraq : Mideast: Ankara's army says it killed 555 Kurdish militants and lost 61 soldiers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  2. Fremont-Barnes, Gregory. A History of Counterinsurgency [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 328. ISBN 9781440804250. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  3. Kurds in Turkey (page 18) Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Gunter, M.M. (1997). The Kurds and the Future of Turkey. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 35. ISBN 9780312172657. Retrieved 2015-04-13.
  5. "Çelik harekatı (20 Mart - 2 Mayıs 1994)". Hürriyet. Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  6. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld | Chronology for Kurds in Turkey". unhcr.org. Archived from the original on 2012-10-17. Retrieved 2015-04-13.
  7. "KurdishMedia.com: News about Kurds and Kurdistan". kurdmedia.com. Retrieved 2015-04-13.

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