BREAKING Turkish jets hit suspected rebel targets in Iraq
Turkish warplanes have bombed suspected Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq, the military said Sunday — its second cross-border airstrike in just over a week.
The jets hit caves and other rebel shelters in Iraq's Zap and Hakurk regions, near the border with Turkey, in an operation that began late Saturday, a military statement said.
All planes returned to base safely after the "effective" operation, the military said, but it did not provide any details about casualties or damage caused to the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which is fighting for autonomy in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast.
In Iraq, a PKK spokesman told The Associated Press that the warplanes started striking the border area at midnight and that four villages in the area were also exposed to artillery shelling.
Bahtiyar Dogan said areas targeted were "farms, villages and old bases, which are not used by the PKK any more," adding that there were no casualties among PKK fighters or the villagers.
Dogan said the airstrikes were in response to a recent PKK attack that allegedly resulted in dozens of Turkish military casualties.
It was not clear if Dogan was referring to clashes near the Turkish border town of Cukurca on Feb. 9, during which Turkish officials said one soldier was killed and six others were wounded. Turkish authorities also said troops killed four rebels in that clash.
The PKK has long used northern Iraq as a base for hit-and-run attacks inside Turkey. The conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984. The group is labeled a terrorist organization by the European Union and the U.S., which has supplied Predator drones to Turkey to assist its fight.
Turkey's air force has launched dozens of raids on suspected rebel bases in northern Iraq since August, the latest on Feb. 3 when its jets hit suspected rebel hideouts near the Turkish border. No casualties were reported.
In December, jets killed 34 smugglers they apparently mistook for rebels in a botched operation near the border with Iraq. It was one of the largest one-day civilian death tolls during Turkey's 27-year drive against the rebels.