ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkish soldiers have killed eight more Kurdish rebels, increasing the rebel death toll to 14 in a two-day clash near the border with Iraq, the military said Wednesday.
The clash began on Tuesday on Mount Gabar, in the province of Sirnak, the military said in a statement posted on its Web site on Wednesday. Six rebels were reported killed on Tuesday and the military said eight others were killed later. One Turkish officer was also killed in the clash on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the military said the rebels were among a group of guerrillas that killed 13 soldiers in an ambush in Sirnak on Oct. 7. At the time, the military retaliated by shelling areas near the border to prevent rebels from reaching bases in northern Iraq.
That attack, and another similar ambush a few weeks later that killed 12 soldiers, sparked anger in Turkey and widespread calls for the military to cross the border to hit bases of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq.
Turkey has massed thousands of troops along its border with Iraq. On Saturday, the military said it fired on a group of about 50 to 60 PKK guerrillas inside Iraqi territory, inflicting “significant losses.” It did not say whether Turkish troops had crossed into Iraq for the operation.
Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, in Paris to address a meeting of European lawmakers, said the military operation on Saturday against PKK rebels involved only air force strikes, not land forces.
The United States and Iraq have pressured Turkey to avoid a large-scale attack on rebel bases in northern Iraq, fearing such an operation would destabilize what has been the calmest region in the country.