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Turkish air raids target PKK, Iraqi Kurds, say authorities

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Syrian Kurds demonstrate on June 10, 2021, in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli. AFP

Turkish air raids target PKK, Iraqi Kurds, say authorities

Turkey carried out air strikes on February 1 in northern Iraq against rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions, causing casualties, authorities in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region said.

“Turkish warplanes targeted several positions of Kurdistan Workers’ Party fighters,” particularly in the Makhmur and Sinjar regions, Kurdish counter-terrorism services said in a statement.

“Turkish military aircraft bombed six PKK positions in the Karjokh mountains,” said the statement.

It also referred to strikes on two positions in the Sinjar mountains and an adjacent area in neighbouring Syria, as well as two raids in the Shila area near Iraq’s border with Syria.

“According to reports, the bombings caused human and material losses,” the statement said, without specifying the number of dead or wounded.

The PKK, blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies, has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened to “clean up” parts of northern Iraq, accuses the PKK of using the mountainous border area as a springboard for its insurgency.

Turkish forces routinely conduct military strikes against PKK hideouts in the area, causing strains in its relations with the central Iraqi government in Baghdad.

In December, the Turkish defence ministry said three Turkish soldiers died in a PKK attack in northern Iraq, prompting a retaliatory air strike at the time.

Turkey launched its latest major air and ground offensive in April last year, targeting rear bases Kurdish militants have used to wage their decades-long insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Turkey also has a military presence in neighbouring Syria, where it has seized swathes of territory in successive military operation since 2016 that have mostly targeted another Kurdish rebel group.

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