Hezen Parastina Gel

(HPG)
   The Kurdistan Peoples Liberation Army (ARGK) was renamed the HPG, or Peoples Defense Force, after Abdullah (Apo) Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), was captured by Turkey in 1999. Thus, the HPG is the PKK's professional guerrilla army. It has been largely stationed in the mostly inaccessible mountainous region of northern Iraq next to the border with Iran and has been reported to have 3,000 to 5,000 fighters led by Murat (Cemal) Karayilan, a longtime leader of the PKK. Since 2004, the HPG also has become increasingly active in Turkey. In December 2007 and again in February 2008, the Turkish army struck the HPG in northern Iraq but was not able to destroy it. The PKK announced on 15 April 2009 that Dr. Bahoz Erdal (aka Fahman Husein), a Syrian Kurd who had been a former medical student and then the HPG commander the previous five years, had handed over his command to Nurettin Sofi after serving his five-year term as mandated by HPG regulations. Duran Kalkan, the former commander of one of the HPG's predecessors, was present at the ceremony as a member of the Komo Civaken Kurdistan (KCK) Executive Committee, which is an umbrella group headed by the PKK. The exact relationship between Erdal and Karayilan as HPG commanders was not clear.
   When Erdal stepped down as HPG commander in April 2009, the accompanying announcement declared that one of the most important developments Erdal had overseen was a change in HPG tactics. This adjustment decentralized the command structure and thus gave more autonomy to HPG team leaders. Thus, the teams became smaller, lighter, faster moving, and more able to work independently and engage targets of opportunity at will. What this actually appeared to mean was the official confirmation that the PKK was no longer able to engage the Turkish army in larger battles, as had occurred in the early and mid-1990s, and had officially adjusted its tactics accordingly.
   The HPG also claimed that it had intensified its efforts to bomb Turkish gas and oil pipelines under Erdal's command, specifically mentioning attacks in August 2006 against a Turkish-Iranian gas pipeline in Agri province and another one against the BTC pipeline in August 2008. More important, the HPG claimed that the Turkish incursions against it into northern Iraq in December 2007 and February 2008 had failed despite being supported by U.S. intelligence.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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