16 people die during 11-day Turkish army crackdown on Kurdish forces in Cizre – report

At least 16 people have been killed during a Turkish army offensive against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeastern Kurdish city of Cizre, a local journalist told RT. The city residents have been ordered to stay indoors.

“Sixteen people died after eleven days of Turkish siege… they are bombing civilians,” the reporter who wished to remain anonymous, told RT.

“Young people from [Cizre] put up barricades… the government wants to remove [them]”, she also said. “They [people] want to protect themselves, because they don’t want to get arrested and they don’t want to go to jail.”

Footage from Cizre shows the city falling under shelling with tanks moving around.

Several buildings were destroyed, schools among them, the reporter said.

The police also used tear gas and water cannon on a crowd of mourners as they, in their hundreds, tried to march in a funeral procession carrying the coffin of two PKK activist killed in another incident this week.

The crackdown on PKK in Cirze and other cities, including Diyarbakir and Silopi, escalated in mid-December. The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) estimates that at least 31 civilians were killed in the fighting. Turkish state media reported that 168 PKK militants have been killed in the large-scale military offensive.

Turkish government forces have been involved in special operations in the region since peace talks with Kurdish opposition fighters collapsed in July. Members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and NATO, have been fighting the Turkish state for decades, calling for Kurdish self-determination.

READ MORE: Scores of Kurdish civilians among hundreds killed in Turkey's southeast – HRW

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said “well over 100” deaths of Kurdish civilians have been recorded over the past six months in southeastern Turkey. The organization called on the country to scale back its operations in the region and investigate.

"Kurdish civilians, including women, children and elderly residents, have been killed during security operations and armed clashes since July 2015," the group said in a report released on Tuesday, titled “Turkey: Mounting Security Operation Deaths".