Turkish airstrike in Iraq 'neutralises' six PKK militants

Turkish airstrike in Iraq 'neutralises' six PKK militants
The airstrikes covered six regions in northern Iraq where the Kurdish militant group has a presence.
2 min read
06 June, 2018
Turkey has been ramping up its activities against Kurdish militant groups [File photo: Getty]

Turkish warplanes "neutralised" at least six Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq, according to the country's military.

Tuesday's airstrike hit the Hakurk, Gara, Metina, Zap, Qandil, and Avasin regions of northern Iraq, destroying 16 targets across them. 

Ankara regularly strikes PKK targets in northern Iraq, where the group is based. 

"We have neutralised 4,500 terrorists in Afrin. They fled," Erdogan said on Tuesday, discussing an operation against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. 

"Qandil is next, Sinjar is next. We will face up to whoever is threatening, disturbing my country," Erdogan said at a rally in the Black Sea city of Eregli, referring to two Iraqi Kurdistan regions. 

Turkey has been in armed conflict with the PKK for three decades. Ankara, along with the US and EU, labels the group as a terror organisation. 

Turkish officials routinely use the term "neutralise" without offering specifics. Most observers interpret the language to mean the fighters were killed or detained. 

Ankara on 20 January launched a cross-border air and ground operation in northern Syria supporting Syrian rebels against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia.

Turkey considers the YPG as the Syrian arm of the PKK. However, the YPG has been the US' main partner in its fight against the Islamic State in northern Syria, causing sharp tensions between the two NATO allies. 

In March, Iraqi authorities confirmed Baghdad agreed to Turkey conducting military operations along the border between the two countries, according to local reports.

Ankara launched the operations "to purge the borders from terrorist pockets in collaboration with the Iraqi government," Turkish ambassador to Iraq Fateh Yildiz said at the time.

Turkey has in recent months been ramping up its activities against Kurdish militant groups.

On Monday, a meeting was held between Turkey's foreign minister and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mevlut Cavusoglue said a roadmap to "rid Manbij, Syria of the YPG/PKK terror group" had been agreed to by the two countries, with the YPG set to withdraw from the flashpoint town.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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