First Published: 2008-10-11

Turkish jets bomb Kurdish rebels targets in Iraq

Turkish warplanes bomb 31 Kurdistan Workers' Party positions in northern Iraq overnight.


Middle East Online

The jets returned safely to their bases

ANKARA - Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel targets in neighbouring Iraq overnight, the latest in a series of raids after a bloody rebel attack on a Turkish border outpost last week, the army said Saturday.

A statement said 31 Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) positions in the Harkurk area along the border were successfully hit in the strike, and were then targeted with artillery fire.

The jets returned safely to their bases, it added, without giving other details.

It was the sixth Turkish air raid in northern Iraq since October 3 when PKK rebels crossing from their bases in the region attacked a Turkish border outpost, backed by heavy weapons fire from the other side of the border.

Seventeen soldiers and at least 23 militants were killed, according to army figures.

The daytime assault was followed on Wednesday by a machine-gun attack on a police bus in Diyarbakir, the main city of Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast, which claimed five lives.

The bus came under fire just as parliament in Ankara extended by one year the government's mandate to order cross-border military operations in northern Iraq against the PKK, which has long enjoyed safe haven in the region.

Ankara has accused the autonomous Kurdish administration of northern Iraq of tolerating the PKK on its territory and even aiding the rebels, who, it says, obtain weapons and explosives in the region for attacks against Turkish targets across the border.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government is under pressure to step up action against the PKK and toughen its stance towards the Iraqi Kurds.

The country's civilian and military leadership is scheduled to convene Tuesday to outline fresh measures to combat the rebels after an intitial meeting Thursday.

The Turkish army has carried out a series of air raids and a week-long ground incursion against PKK camps in northern Iraq since the government obtained its first one-year mandate for cross-border military action on October 17, 2007.

Turkish forces have killed about 640 PKK militants this year, some 400 of them in cross-border operations in northern Iraq, according to army figures.

The PKK took up arms for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey's southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 44,000 lives.

Ankara has undertaken a series of reforms that boosted Kurdish cultural freedoms and relaxed stringent security arrangements in the southeast.


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