The Turkish government announced Friday that its one-week curfew in the southern town of Cizre will end Saturday morning local time.
The 24-hour curfew in Cizre began on Sept. 4 to support the military's operation against the Kurdish rebels, but officials and right groups have expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in the town due to the curfew.
The leader of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party said earlier on Friday the curfew in Cizre had turned into a "death sentence" for Kurds in the Kurdish-majority city.
"Normally, the fine when someone breaks a curfew is 100 Turkish lira (US$33)," said Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), who had been trying to visit the city over the past few days. "In Cizre, the fine is the death sentence and executions," Turkish media quoted him saying in the town of Idil west of Cizre.
On Thursday, Demirtas and other deputies from the HDP marched on foot toward the town, but the Turkish armed forces blocked them. They started the 55-mile walk after police blocked their convey on Wednesday.
The HDP marching delegation said that more than 21 civilians had been killed by Turkish military airstrikes in the border town between Syria and Turkey. Meanwhile, the country's interior ministry said that no civilians were killed and at least 30 PKK fighters have been killed in the town since last week.
Demirtas challenged the authorities to give names and prove that those killed were members of the PKK. "I will resign if [the government] proves the civilians killed in Cizre are PKK militants," he said after reading out the names of all the victims, local media quoted him as saying Friday.
Meanwhile, the Turkish interior ministry suspended the pro-Kurdish HDP mayor of Cizre, Leyla Imret, for an article she wrote criticizing the government's polices in her town. An investigation was opened into the mayor for spreading “terror propaganda”, the ministry said. Demirtas and other HDP deputies are facing similar probes.
In overnight raids against the Kurdistan's Workers' Party, or PKK, the Turkish army struck 64 of their positions in northern Iraq, dropping more than 80 bombs, state media said Friday.
The Turkish government initiated an open-ended operation against the PKK in July, which the HDP and observers see as an attempt by the ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), to play on the nationalist sentiment in a bid to attract votes and win back majority in Parliament and single-party rule.