ISTANBUL, (Reuters) – Turkey said its warplanes struck Kurdish separatist targets inside northern Iraq on Friday and Saturday in what military sources called the biggest Turkish air operation in northern Iraq this year.
A Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) spokesman said the bombing had caused no casualties.
Turkey has carried out a series of air strikes in northern Iraq since the end of a cross-border land offensive in February, which prompted concern in Washington of further regional instability and was watched closely in financial markets.
It was the second Turkish air strike this week on northern Iraq, which the PKK uses as a base from which to launch attacks in Turkey, after an operation on Wednesday.
Military sources had said on Friday that the air operation began about 7:30 p.m. (1630 GMT) and said later it continued into the early hours of Saturday.
The Turkish military tends to step up operations against the PKK in the spring when the snow melts, making it easier to move about in the mountainous region. “Turkish air force planes, supported by ground weapons, struck PKK targets in an effective operation on April 25-26,” the general staff said in a statement on its website.
Clashes between Turkish soldiers and PKK guerrillas continued inside Turkey on Saturday in the mountainous province of Sirnak, bordering Iraq.
Military sources said three soldiers, including a major, were killed in the clashes on Friday. The general staff said a mine explosion killed a soldier and a member of a village guard militia, which works alongside the army in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
After a series of air strikes in December, the Turkish military conducted an eight-day incursion into northern Iraq in February, in which it said 240 PKK members and 27 of its own men were killed.
Washington provided its NATO ally with intelligence on PKK activities in northern Iraq, but called for the cross-border operation to be brought to a swift end.
After withdrawing, Chief of General Staff General Yasar Buyukanit said more land operations could be launched if necessary.
Ankara blames the PKK for 40,000 deaths since 1984 when the group took up arms to try to establish an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey.
The United States and the European Union, as well as Turkey, consider it a terrorist organisation.