For the Kurdish people, the holiday of Nowruz commemorates the deliverance from oppression, a feat some tried to revive this year.

While millions of people, spread from Iran to the Balkans to the former Soviet Republics, celebrated the coming of spring and their hopes for a year of peace earlier this week, Kurdish militants marked the holiday by clashing with police officers in Turkey's eastern Sirnak province.

In what became the largest operation against rebels so far in 2012, thousands of Turkish security forces met with the Kurdish Workers' Party at Mount Cudi near the borders of Syria and Iran on Tuesday. Six police officers and six rebels were killed during gun battles, according to the BBC.

The BDP (the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party) once more did what it does best... by turning our cities into a battlefield, said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday.

The terrorist organization and the political party that is its extension resorted to ugly provocations. The calls of the terrorist organization for months were about turning Nowruz into an uprising, Erdogan added.

Turkey, which celebrated the holiday alongside a number of other countries at a United Nations ceremony on Tuesday, banned Nowruz for years because of the near-annual clashes with Kurdish militants that occurred. The vernal equinox celebration has been peaceful in recent years, but the state's refusal to allow celebrations to take place on Sunday this year enraged Kurdish leaders.

While Nowruz is a one-day event, the government's battle against the Kurdistan Workers' Party is seemingly without end. The group, which is officially listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States, is fighting for the political rights of the Kurdish people in Turkey, as well as for independence in Kurdistan.

Between Tuesday and Thursday, police used tear gas and water cannons to break up riots and demonstrations in majority Kurdish areas of Sirnak, and also sent attack helicopters to bomb rebels in the mountains, CNN reported.

The operation was the deadliest since December, when Turkish airstrikes killed 34 near the Iraqi border.