Last updated: 29 August, 2011

Turkish military renews raids on PKK bases in Iraq

Turkish jets bombed bases in northern Iraq used by the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in a fresh campaign last week that killed as many as 160 rebels, the military said Monday.

“Based on the results of exploration and target analysis work held between August 23-24, Turkish air force jets efficiently hit targets of the separatist terror organisation in the Zap and Gara regions between August 25-28 in 21 sorties,” the military said in a statement.

It said between 145 and 160 rebels were killed in the air attacks, and more than 100 wounded. The number of separatists “rendered inactive” in air raids the week before stood at between 90 and 100, it added.

Heavy artillery fire was directed at 38 targets “in coordination with the air operation,” the statement said.

PKK spokesman Ahmet Denis confirmed the military conducted an air campaign against the group’s bases on the dates the army mentioned, but said there were no casualties.

“Yes, there have been Turkish air strikes and bombardments in the period from August 25 to 28. There have been no PKK casualties,” he told AFP.

The army stressed that “necessary sensitivity has been shown for the civilians in the region not to be affected negatively” by the air strikes.

“The activities of the separatist terrorist organisation will be closely monitored in northern Iraq and at home, and air and land operations will continue in a determined fashion,” said the army.

Ankara’s renewed campaign after a break of more than a year followed a PKK attack that killed nine security personnel in southeast Turkey this month.

The conflict is threatening relations with neighbouring Iraq, which summoned Turkey’s ambassador last week to demand an immediate end to the military’s air strikes against Kurdish rebel bases in the north.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeast Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.