The death toll among Turkish servicemen is two, and five civilians have died in the operation.
The large-scale offensive against the PKK began Wednesday. Ankara deployed some 10,000 soldiers with heavy armament, including tanks, to drive PKK members out of municipalities in the province of Sirnak. The towns of Cizre and Silopi, as well as the largest city of the region, Diyarbakir, have become battlefields in the state offensive.
Imagery from the scene, published by the Anatolia news agency, shows troops sweeping the towns house-to-house, firing weapons on street corners at unseen targets.
On Sunday Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu criticized the rebels, accusing them of trying to “unleash a civil war," and promising to "cleanse” towns populated by militant Kurds.
Kurdish activists and politicians accused the army of acting with indiscriminate impunity, completely demolishing entire sections of towns.
Some 600 demonstrators took to the streets of Istanbul on Sunday to protest the ongoing military operation, and were later dispersed by police without incident. In the eastern city of Van, the Dogan news agency reported, law enforcement used tear gas and rubber bullets to force protestors out of streets.
The current offensive indicates a new stage in the long-lasting standoff between Turkish President Erdogan’s authority and the PKK, after a two-year truce collapsed in July.
The PKK first declared an insurgency in Turkey in 1984 to create an independent Kurdish state, and the group continues to work for regional autonomy and ordinary citizens’ rights for Kurds.