ANKARA, (Reuters) – At least 10 Turkish fighter planes bombed suspected Kurdish guerrilla positions in northern Iraq, Turkish military officials said on Friday.
The strikes began after 1900 GMT on Thursday in two separate regions in northern Iraq, senior security sources told Reuters. “Last night two separate regions were bombed where the PKK was believed to be taking shelter,” a high-ranking Turkish security official said.
Brigadier General Metin Gurak, head of the General Staff’s media office, told reporters Turkish jets successfully hit 16 suspected PKK targets in the Kandil mountains before returning to their bases in Turkey.
Turkish armed forces have staged several cross-border operations, including a brief land offensive, against Kurdistan Workers Party’s (PKK) bases in mountainous northern Iraq over the past 12 months.
A PKK spokesman said there had been about two hours of air strikes on the Kandil mountains from about 10 p.m. on Thursday. “We have one wounded PKK member, and the bombing was not just in our areas, but also close to inhabited villages,” PKK spokesman Ahmed Danees said.
One home had been destroyed, he said.
Azad Wassu, mayor of the Iraqi town of Jarawa near the Kandil mountains, said five families had fled their homes but there were no casualties or damage.
Turkey says it believes that thousands of separatist PKK guerrillas use northern Iraq to stage attacks inside Turkey.
The government has asked parliament to extend a mandate, which expires next month, to launch further military operations against the PKK in Iraq.
Since a land offensive in February, Turkey’s military has confined its cross-border operations to air strikes and shelling against PKK targets.
Ankara blames the PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, for the deaths of more than 40,000 people since it launched its campaign for an ethnic Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.