(AFP) – May 20, 2010
ANKARA — Turkish warplanes on Thursday bombed dozens of Kurdish rebel targets in neighbouring northern Iraq, in one of the biggest raids in recent years, media reports and the insurgents said.
About 20 fighter jets took part in the operation that targeted positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the Zap-Khakurk region of the Kurdish-held autonomous north of Iraq, the NTV news channel reported.
Nearly 50 targets were hit in day-long missions carried out mainly on intelligence passed on by the United States, it said.
The Anatolia news agency reported that the strikes were ordered after a group of PKK rebels were detected on their way towards the Turkish border from their mountainous hideouts in northern Iraq.
NTV said the operation, the second this month, was believed to be a success although there was no immediate confirmation of possible losses to the rebels.
The PKK confirmed there had been a number of airstrikes but gave few details.
"Turkish warplanes bombed PKK positions... in the region of Khwar Korak" over a period of about one hour, rebel spokesman Ahmed Denis told AFP, without giving details of deaths or injuries.
The pro-Kurdish Firat news agency said separately that Turkish aircraft carried out two raids near the village of Sideka, one in the early afternoon and the other at the end of the day, adding that there were no casualties.
There was no immediate statement from the army on the raid.
Thursday's strikes followed a series of daring attacks in recent weeks by PKK rebels on Turkish military targets in the country's southeast, which left several soldiers dead.
The earlier raid took place on May 7 when warplanes bombed and destroyed PKK positions across the Iraqi border from which the rebels were firing on Turkish helicopters, according to the army.
The PKK, blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Ankara and much of the international community, picked up arms for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.
The arrival of spring usually brings a resurgence of violence as the rebels move out from their mountain hideouts in Turkey and neighbouring Iraq when the snow melts.
The Turkish army has staged a series of air raids against PKK bases in northern Iraq since December 2007, often with the help of US intelligence, and in February 2008 carried out a week-long ground incursion.
Ankara says about 2,000 PKK rebels are holed up in the mountains of northern Iraq, from where they launch attacks on Turkish territory.
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