Turkish commandos raid Kurd rebel bases in Iraq
ANKARA - Turkish commandos have staged a raid against Kurd rebel hideouts in Iraq, the NTV news channel reported Wednesday.
The rare cross-border strike hit targets some five kilometres (three miles) inside the border and came as part of an air-backed operation that has been going on for two days, according to NTV.
Two battalions of special units were flown into to carry out the raid on bases used by members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Eight Turkish F16 fighter jets supported the operation.
There were no immediate reports on casualties.
"The commandos returned home without losses after the small-scale but effective operation," NTV reported, citing unnamed military sources.
Turkey frequently stages air strikes against PKK bases located across the Iraqi border but land operations are rarely seen in the mountainous zone.
The operations are in line with a Turkish mandate that gives Ankara the authority to order raids to hit suspected bases inside northern Iraq, from where rebels are believed to be infiltrating.
Parliament voted in favour of allowing operations in 2007 and has renewed the mandate annually.
Recent months have seen a sharp escalation of Kurdish rebel attacks, prompting Turkey's military to launch an all-out offensive in the Kurdish-majority southeast.
As winter approaches, rebels pull back to shelters across the border, which
becomes particularly difficult to pass in the icy weather.
Last month, the Iraqi government moved to end the Turkish military presence in the north of the country, saying it rejected any foreign bases on its soil or action by foreign forces.
Since the 1990s Turkey has maintained several military bases in the autonomous Kurdistan region of north Iraq, where the PKK also has bases.
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.