Turkish warplanes bomb northern Iraq

Turkish warplanes bombed northern Iraq on Monday, the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and an Iraqi Kurdish official said, as Ankara stepped up its riposte to increased fighting with the rebels.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the air raids, which began at 9am GMT and targeted the Sidakan district of Arbil province in the mountainous north-east of Iraq.

“So far they have resulted in fires breaking out in forests and fields in the mountains,” Sidakan district commissioner Ahmed Qadr said.

PKK spokesperson Ahmed Denis said: “The bombing targeted Kurdish nomads in the border area. We don’t yet know the extent of the damage or casualties.”

Repeated air raids
Turkey has launched repeated air raids and two ground incursions against suspected PKK rear-bases in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq in recent weeks.

They came as the Turkish army suffered its deadliest 48 hours in two years in its battle with the PKK.

On June 19 and 20, the rebels killed 12 Turkish soldiers in multiple attacks inside Turkey, prompting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to pledge to fight the PKK “to the end”.

Three more soldiers and a civilian were killed in further rebel attacks on June 21 and 24.

And on June 22, a PKK splinter group bombed a Turkish military bus in Istanbul, killing five soldiers and a 17-year-old girl.

Blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, the PKK took up arms for Kurdish self-rule in south-eastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45 000 lives, according to the Turkish army. — AFP

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