AMADIYAH, Northern Iraq,(AFP) – Turkish fighter jets have pounded Kurdish rebel positions in the mountainous Hakurk region of northern Iraq, security sources told AFP.
Members of the Kurdish security force in the autonomous north of Iraq said the raids, which began around 10:00 pm (2000 GMT) Sunday, continued overnight in and around Hakurk, a prominent PKK stronghold some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Turkish frontier.
Billows of smoke could be seen miles away, they said.
The Firat news agency, considered to be a PKK mouthpiece, said on its Internet site that warplanes took off from the military air base in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s southeast, late Sunday.
The raids came after fighting intensified between Turkish troops and PKK rebels around Hakurk.
Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq Thursday evening in the largest cross-border offensive in years against PKK hideouts in the region, bombing rebel positions and fighting the militants on the ground.
The Turkish army said Sunday that it killed 112 PKK rebels and lost 15 soldiers since the beginning of the incursion.
Ankara says an estimated 4,000 PKK rebels are holed up in northern Iraq and use the region as a springboard for attacks on Turkish territory as part of their campaign for self-rule in Kurdish-majority southeast Turkey.
The conflict has claimed more than 37,000 lives since the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms in 1984.