Residents returned to Turkey’s mainly Kurdish town of Cizre on Wednesday to find many of their homes damaged or destroyed after the government lifted a months-long 24-hour curfew.
Turkey has been pressing an offensive against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the southeastern part of the country since July and has shut off parts of cities with curfews and security operations. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to continue until every one of the militants is defeated.
In Cizre, the 24-hour curfew went into effect in December and has been relaxed to apply only between 7:30 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Three weeks ago, Interior Minister Efkan Ala declared operations against the PKK were over in Cizre after the army killed nearly 600 militants. Kurdish activists disputed the number of militant deaths and said dozens of civilians were killed.
Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have criticized Turkey’s military, saying it needs to control its forces and investigate civilian casualties.
HRW also called on Kurdish armed groups to stop putting up barricades, digging trenches and planting explosives.