Turkey Says Strikes Against PKK are Mainly in Turkey

Posted October 21st, 2011 at 6:40 am (UTC-5)
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The Turkish military says this week's massive air and ground operations against Kurdish militants are mainly taking place on the Turkish side of the border with Iraq.

But in a statement posted on its website, the military said some operations are taking place in “a few” areas of northern Iraq.

Turkey launched the offensive against Kurdistan Workers' Party rebels after a series of PKK attacks Wednesday killed 24 soldiers. Turkey says most of its ground and air forces are operating in Turkey's Cukurca region.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that Turkey's military forces are carrying out a decisive land and air operation that he called part of the solution to terrorism.

The Iraqi government condemned the rebel attacks and promised to work with Ankara to prevent them in the future.

The attacks have outraged many Turks, with thousands, many of them students, marching through the capital, Ankara, on Thursday in a show of support for the military. Many chanted slogans denouncing terrorism.

The PKK has stepped up attacks against Turkish targets in recent weeks. Turkish forces have responded by increasing the number of airstrikes against suspected rebel bases in northern Iraq. Turkey called on Iraq last week to stop the Kurdish rebels from attacking Turkey from Iraqi soil, saying its “patience is running out.”

Kurdish rebels have waged a campaign for autonomy in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast since 1984. The fighting has killed more than 40,000 people. Turkey, the United States, and the European Union regard the PKK as a terrorist group.

The Turkish government has taken steps to address the demands of Kurds and other minorities for greater rights. Prime Minister Erdogan is pushing to amend the constitution, which was written in 1982 when Turkey was under military rule. But Kurdish leaders say an amended constitution should recognize the Kurds as a distinct element of the nation and grant them autonomy.