Turkey launches operation against PKK fighters in northern Iraq

Defence ministry says nine Kurdish fighters have been killed in the operation taking place in Iraq's Hakurk region.

    The military operation is taking place just across the border from Turkey's southeastern tip, which also borders Iran [File: Turkish Armed Forces/Anadolu]
    The military operation is taking place just across the border from Turkey's southeastern tip, which also borders Iran [File: Turkish Armed Forces/Anadolu]

    Turkey's military launched an operation with commandos, backed by artillery and air attacks, against Kurdish fighters in a mountainous area of northern Iraq, the defence ministry said on Tuesday. 

    The military action began with artillery and air raids on Monday afternoon and the operation by commando brigades began at 8pm (17:00 GMT) to "neutralise terrorists, and destroy their ammunition depots and shelters," according to a ministry statement.

    It said the operation is in Iraq's Hakurk region, just across the border from Turkey's southeastern tip, which also borders Iran.

    The ministry also said that nine PKK members had been killed in the operation as of Tuesday afternoon.

    The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighter group is based in northern Iraq, notably in the Qandil region to the south of Hakurk.

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    Video published by the ministry showed helicopters landing commandos on mountainous terrain. It also shared photos showing shells fired by howitzers and soldiers perched on ridges, surveying hillsides with their rifles.

    "The operation, with the support of our attack helicopters, is continuing as planned," the statement said.

    The military frequently launches cross-border air attacks against PKK targets in northern Iraq, but ground operations are less common.

    The PKK has been fighting against the Turkish state in predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey since the 1980s and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

    It is designated a "terrorist" group by Ankara, the European Union and the United States.

    SOURCE: News agencies