Turkey bombs Kurdish rebels in Iraq

Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq this week, the Anatolia news agency reported on Friday, quoting an army spokesperson.

The air raids on Wednesday and Thursday targeted hideouts of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Khakurk region of the Kurdish-held autonomous north of Iraq, General Metin Gurak told reporters.

He made no mention of PKK losses but stressed that measures were taken to prevent harming the civilian population in the region.

The Turkish army has been targeting the PKK in Iraq — with the help of intelligence from Nato ally the United States — under a parliamentary authorisation for cross-border military action, which was first approved in 2007 and renewed for another year in October.

Ankara says about 2 000 PKK rebels are holed up in the mountains of northern Iraq, from where they launch attacks on Turkish territory as part of a 24-year separatist campaign.

In November, Iraq, Turkey and the United States agreed to form a joint committee to track the threat posed by the PKK and enact measures to stop the militants’ activities.

Last month, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said during a visit to Turkey that the three countries would set up a joint centre in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil to outline steps against the rebels.

Turkey has often accused the Iraqi Kurds of tolerating and even aiding the PKK.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms for self-rule in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority south-east in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 44 000 lives. — AFP



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