Turkey bombs three PKK targets in northern Iraq

February 03, 2012, Friday/ 17:58:00/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM

Turkish fighter jets have carried out air strikes on three targets in northern Iraq in an ongoing campaign to counter terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members hiding in camps there, Turkish army said on Wednesday. 

Turkey has been conducting air raids against camps of the PKK hidden in Iraq's northern mountains since August last year following the breakdown of a ceasefire and an increase in attacks on Turkish troops and civilians by the PKK.       

A military statement said the jets hit the suspected PKK shelters in Iraq's Zap region on Friday near the Turkish border, then returned safely after an "effective" operation.

The military did not provide details about damage or casualties on the ground and there was no immediate confirmation from the PKK.

The PKK members have long used northern Iraq as a springboard for hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets. This year, Turkey's air force has launched dozens of air raids on suspected PKK bases and other targets in northern Iraq and along the Turkish side of the mountainous border.

In December, the warplanes targeted smugglers they mistook for PKK members, killing 34 of them in one of the largest one-day civilian death tolls during Turkey's 27-year drive against the terrorists of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The attack sparked demonstrations across Turkey.

The group has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast since 1984. The conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The PKK is labeled a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, which has supplied Predator drones to Turkey to assist its fight.

In an unrelated operation, authorities said Turkish troops killed five PKK members in a shootout in southeast Turkey earlier Friday.

The governor's office in southeastern Batman province says the PKK members were killed in a clash near the town of Kozluk on Friday.

Turkey has granted more cultural rights to the Kurdish minority - such as broadcasts in the once-banned Kurdish language - in a failed effort at reconciliation.

Turkey has staged 28 operations into northern Iraq in pursuit of the PKK in the last 20 years, Iraqi Kurdish officials claim.

The cycle of violence between the Turkish military and the PKK has blighted Turkey's southeast for 27 years with human rights abuses and atrocities committed on both sides, and civilians inevitably caught in the middle.     

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