Last Updated: Mon Oct 24, 2011 21:39 pm (KSA) 18:39 pm (GMT)

Turkish troops move into Iraq, head for PKK camps

The incursion came as cross-border operations continued in the wake of last week’s attack by PKK fighters that killed 24 Turkish soldiers. (Reuters)
The incursion came as cross-border operations continued in the wake of last week’s attack by PKK fighters that killed 24 Turkish soldiers. (Reuters)

Turkish tanks and armored vehicles crossed into northern Iraq headed in the direction of a Kurdish militant camp, Turkish security sources said on Monday.

Some 20 tanks and 30 military trucks entered Iraqi soil from Siyahkaya village around 15 kilometers (eight miles) east of the Habur gate on the Turkish side of the border and near the Iraqi city of Zakho, sources said.

The Turkish army also carried troops by helicopter to the Zap region, they added.

The incursion came as cross-border operations continued in the wake of last week’s attack by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters that killed 24 Turkish soldiers.

Some 400 PKK fighters are thought to be based in the region.

Warplanes took off earlier from bases in Diyarbakir and Malatya to launch airstrikes on the camp as the latest phase of operations began on Monday afternoon.

Separately, the head of Turkey’s armed forces, General Necdet Ozel, offered a review of recent military operations for NTV news channel.

“The cross border operation that started on October 20 continues in a number of regions, within the framework of a determined struggle against terrorism,” Ozel said in written answers to questions from NTV and posted on its website.

Turkish air strikes have killed 250 to 270 Kurdish militants, wounded 210 and destroyed many arms stores in northern Iraq since Aug. 17, Ozel said in the text.

Turkish warplanes launched air strikes against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas in northern Iraq in mid-August in retaliation for a string of PKK attacks in southeast Turkey.

The military launched fresh air-backed ground operations against the militants last week on both sides of the mountainous Turkey-Iraq border after simultaneous PKK attacks killed 24 Turkish soldiers in Hakkari province on the Iraqi border.

On Saturday, the military said it had killed 49 militants during two days of fighting in a valley on the Turkish side of the frontier.

Ankara’s reaction to one of the deadliest attacks on its security forces in a conflict that began three decades ago had fuelled speculation that Turkey could move to a full-blown incursion to clear out PKK camps deeper inside northern Iraq.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in 1984. The United States, the European Union and Turkey designate the PKK as a terrorist organization.

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