Turkish jets hit 16 PKK targets in northern Iraq

September 27, 2008 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment

The General Staff announced yesterday that Turkish warplanes successfully attacked 16 suspected targets of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Metin Gürak, head of the General Staff’s media office, yesterday told reporters that Turkish jets successfully struck 16 suspected PKK targets in the Kandil Mountains before returning to their bases in Turkey on Thursday night.

“Last night, an air strike was launched by Turkish Air Forces’ planes on targets of the separatist terrorist organization in the Kandil region of Iraq’s north. During this operation, all 16 targets which were identified and confirmed via technical instruments were hit directly,” Gürak was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency, also noting that the warplanes “returned safely” to their bases.

Gürak stated that the military has taken the utmost care to avoid harming civilians in the strikes. The military, meanwhile, has not revealed any casualty figures. Azad Wassu, mayor of the Iraqi town of Jarawa near the Kandil Mountains, told the Reuters news agency that five families had fled their homes but that there were no casualties or damage.

Turkish military officials separately told Reuters that at least 10 Turkish fighter planes had bombed suspected PKK positions in northern Iraq.

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 told Reuters.

Yesterday’s briefing by Gürak was one of the new initiatives taken by the General Staff under its new chief, Gen. İlker Başbuğ, in order to promote a better public image of the military. The Friday briefing was the first of regular media briefings as part of bid to revise the General Staff’s policies on media relations.

Thursday’s air strike on PKK targets is one of the many strikes since December of last year. Parliament authorized the military to conduct such operations on Oct.17, 2007, for a one-year period. The Turkish military has been launching aerial strikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq since Dec. 17, 2007, and the United States supports Turkey’s anti-PKK efforts, providing intelligence about the group and airspace clearance for Turkish fighter jets taking part in the aerial operations. Troops were also sent into northern Iraq in a major ground offensive against the PKK in February.

As of Monday, a government motion seeking an extension of a mandate from Parliament to conduct military operations against the PKK based in northern Iraq had been sent to the Office of the Parliament Speaker. Terrorist attacks and open threats are continuing, the government said in the motion sent to the legislature.

During yesterday’s briefing, Gürak also stated that six terrorists were killed on Thursday in a clash between Turkish security forces and terrorists in Eruh, in the southeastern Anatolian province of Siirt, Anatolia reported. In a separate operation at Mount Cudi, one soldier was killed by terrorists on Thursday, Anatolia said.

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Entry filed under: Diplomacy, News, Politics, World.

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