At least three Turkish soldiers have been killed in an attack in northern Iraq launched by outlawed Kurdish fighters, prompting a retaliatory air attack, according to the Turkish defence ministry.
“Three of our heroic soldiers were killed in an attack staged by the terrorists in the north of Iraq,” the ministry said on Thursday, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkish fighter jets hit suspected PKK posts to “neutralise” six fighters, a statement on the ministry website said, adding that a military offensive was under way in the region. “Neutralised” is commonly used to mean killed.
Turkish forces routinely conduct military attacks against PKK hideouts in the mountains of northern Iraq, causing strains in its relations with the central Iraqi government in Baghdad.
Turkey launched its latest major air and ground offensive in April, targeting rear bases Kurdish fighters have used to wage a decades-long armed rebellion against the Turkish state.
The armed conflict has killed more than 40,000 people since 1984.
Turkey also has a military presence in neighbouring Syria, where it has seized swaths of territory in successive military operations since 2016 that have mostly targeted another Kurdish rebel group.
In October, the Turkish parliament approved an extension of military operations in Syria and Iraq for another two years.