Turkey Confirms Strikes Against PKK Targets in Iraq

Posted August 18th, 2011 at 4:00 am (UTC-5)
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Turkey's military says its warplanes have attacked 60 targets of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party in northern Iraq.

The military said Thursday that Turkish planes carried out the raids late Wednesday. It said it will continue such operations until the PKK is “rendered ineffective.”

The military said Turkish artillery fire hit 168 targets in the region before the air operation. It said the “necessary sensitivity” was shown to avoid harming civilians.

The military strikes came hours after PKK rebels ambushed a military convoy in Turkey, killing at least eight Turkish soldiers near the border with Iraq.

The raids mark Turkey's first cross border offensive in one year. Media reports said the air strikes hit bases, anti-aircraft defenses and rebel shelters in the Kandil and Zap regions, among others.

Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz had vowed Wednesday to strongly retaliate against the PKK for its assault on Turkish forces.

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 country's largely Kurdish southeast since 1984. The conflict has killed more than 40,000 people.

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.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara expressed condolences for the soldiers killed Wednesday 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.