Turkey strikes PKK militants in northern Iraq

Turkey strikes PKK militants in northern Iraq
Turkey has carried out airstrikes against alleged PKK militants in north Iraq, weeks after Turkish President Erdogan visited the country.
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Turkey has greatly increased its attacks on PKK militants in Iraqi Kurdistan [Getty]

Turkey has carried out a new round of airstrikes targeting Kurdish militants in neighboring Iraq, the Turkish defense ministry said Monday.

Warplanes struck suspected positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the regions of Hakurk, Metina and Gara in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, according to the statement.

The airstrikes reportedly killed 16 militants, including some commanders, the ministry said.

There was no immediate comment from the PKK, a banned separatist group that has waged an insurgency against Turkey since the 1980s.

The ministry said it was determined to “rescue Turkey from this problem.”

The latest airstrikes came weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid his first visit to Iraq in 12 years, seeking greater cooperation from Baghdad in the fight against the militants.

Erdogan had previously announced a major operation against the PKK for this summer with the aim of “permanently” eradicating the threat it poses.

The PKK, labelled a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies, is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeast Turkey. The conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives since it began in 1984.

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Baghdad has long alleged that Turkish actions in Iraq against the PKK violate its sovereignty, but it appears to be acquiescing to Ankara’s latest operations.

In March, after a meeting between the Iraqi and Turkish foreign ministers, Baghdad announced that the Iraqi National Security Council had issued a ban on the PKK, although it stopped short of designating it as a terrorist organisation.