Reports: Turkish Jets Bomb PKK Bases in Northern Iraq

Posted August 17th, 2011 at 4:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Turkish warplanes have attacked targets of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party in northern Iraq hours after a deadly assault by PKK rebels that killed eight Turkish soldiers in Hakkari province near the Turkey-Iraq border.

Wednesday's military strike hit bases in the Kandil and Zap regions of northern Iraq. Earlier, Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz had vowed a strong retaliation against the PKK for its assault on Turkish forces.

The Turkish defense minister said the soldiers and a village guard were killed when their military convoy was ambushed by the PKK rebels in the country's southeast. Four roadside bombs exploded as a Turkish military convoy passed by. Eleven Turkish soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

The renewed violence comes just days after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey's “patience is running out” with the rebels, who have waged a campaign for autonomy in the largely Kurdish southeast since 1984. The conflict has killed more than 40,000 people.

Fighting between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish military has intensified in recent weeks.

In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara expressed condolences for the soldiers and said the United States stands with Turkey in its fight against the PKK.

Turkey, the United States, and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist group.

Earlier this month, Kurdish rebels attacked a military convoy in southeast Turkey, killing three soldiers and wounding several others. Separately, a battle in July killed 13 Turkish soldiers and seven PKK militants. Since calling off a cease-fire in February, the PKK has adopted what it calls an “active defense” stance, which allows its fighters to defend themselves if they feel threatened.