Turkey extends mandate for Iraq strikes on PKK
ANKARA - Turkey's parliament on Thursday extended the government's mandate to order military strikes against Kurdish rebels holed up in neighbouring Iraq for another year, reported the Anatolia news agency.
Turkey has renewed since 2007 the motion giving a green light for the Turkish military to conduct cross-border raids to hit suspected bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
Recent months have seen a sharp escalation of Kurdish rebel attacks, triggering Turkey's powerful military to launch an all-out offensive in the Kurdish-majority southeast.
Turkish jets also enter Iraqi airspace to strike rebel bases in the north of Iraq.
The latest air strike occurred early this week when at least 12 F-16 fighter jets took off from the Diyarbakir base in the southeast and targeted four camps in the Kandil Mountains and the surrounding area where the PKK leadership is believed to be hiding.
The vote in the parliament comes after Iraq moved last week to end Turkey's military presence in the north of the country, saying it rejected any foreign bases on its soil or action by foreign forces, signalling a further deterioration in ties between the two neighbours.
Since the 1990s Turkey has maintained several military bases in the autonomous Kurdistan region of north Iraq, where the PKK also has bases.
Ties between Iraq and Turkey have been strained by several disputes this year, including Ankara's refusal to extradite Iraqi vice president Tareq al-Hashemi, who has been sentenced to death in absentia by a Baghdad court.
About 45,000 people have been killed since the PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms for autonomy in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984.