Turkish forces have ended an almost two-month military offensive backed by a curfew against Kurdish rebels in the southeastern town of Cizre, the interior minister said Thursday.
"The operations in Cizre have been successfully completed as of today," Efkan Ala told state-run TRT television, adding that the round-the-clock curfew imposed when the operation began on 14 December would nonetheless continue.
"Control has been re-established in Cizre and over the terrorists there," he said, referring to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
"But the curfew will remain in place for some time as there might still be traps and mines in some areas that could hurt our citizens," he said.
Turkish authorities imposed curfews in Cizre and other towns in the Kurdish-dominated southeast in a bid to root out PKK rebels from urban centres.
Ala said anti-PKK operations in the historic Sur district of Diyarbakir, the largest city in the majority-Kurdish region, were also drawing to a close.
|The London based rights group said the round-the-clock curfews imposed by Turkish authorities "resemble collective punishment" against local residents.|
The curfew in Sur has been in place since 2 December and there is considerable concern over the damage inflicted on its historic buildings during the bitter clashes.
The army said Thursday that 18 rebels had been killed in Cizre a day before the operation ended, bringing the total number killed in the town to 603 since 14 December.
It said a total of 184 militants had also been killed in Sur.
Kurdish activists claim the campaign has cost dozens of civilian lives and that the army figure for the number of militants killed is grossly exaggerated.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP) said last week that at least 200 civilians had been killed in curfew-hit areas since August, including 70 children, and that as many as 100,000 of Cizre's 120,000 residents had fled.
Last month, Amnesty International said the Turkish military campaign in the country's southeast was putting the lives of 200,000 Kurds at risk.
The London based rights group said the round-the-clock curfews imposed by Turkish authorities "resemble collective punishment" against local residents.
The PKK has killed dozens of members of the Turkish security forces in bomb and gunfire attacks since a two-and-a-half-year truce collapsed in July.
The violence has destroyed hopes of fresh talks to end a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.
Agencies contributed to this report