Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 20:37 pm (KSA) 17:37 pm (GMT)

More than 150 PKK rebels killed in Iraq: Turkey

Washington endorsed the air strikes, saying they targeted "terrorists" (File)
Washington endorsed the air strikes, saying they targeted "terrorists" (File)

More than 150 Kurdish rebels from the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have been killed in Turkish bombing raids carried out in northern Iraq this week, the Turkish army said Saturday.

"According to initial estimates, this operation allowed us to neutralize more than 150 terrorists," according to a statement on the Turkish army website.

Several senior PKK commanders may have been among the dead, the statement said, adding that the raids caused "panic among (PKK) members".

The raids in the mountainous Qandil region which began late Thursday and continued into the night hit 43 targets including shelters and a PKK communications centre, which were all destroyed, the army said.

The Qandil mountains straddle Iran, Iraq and Turkey and have long been a separatist haven.

Turkish warplanes have been bombing PKK positions in northern Iraq on and off since mid-December.

In February, the army conducted a week-long ground offensive against rebel hideouts in the region, where Ankara estimates more than 2,000 militants take refuge.

Turkey's parliament authorized cross-border military action against the rebels for a period of one year in October, paving the way for the ground offensive, which was preceded by five bombing raids on PKK targets in northern Iraq.

Washington on Friday endorsed the air strikes, saying they targeted PKK "terrorists".

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, has been fighting for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984. The conflict has claimed more than 37,000 lives.

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