Turkish Warplanes Hit PKK Targets in Northern Iraq: Security Source
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Dozens of Turkish warplanes struck militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq overnight, killing tens of the group's fighters, a security source told Reuters on Tuesday.
The latest air strikes in northern Iraq, also reported by Turkish media, came after the PKK killed 16 Turkish soldiers in southeast Turkey on Sunday in their deadliest attack since the collapse of a two-year-old ceasefire in July, according to Reuters.
The general staff announced the death of 16 troops on Monday after more than 24 hours of uncertainty over the number of casualties. Its figure contrasted with earlier claims from a PKK-affiliated group that put the death toll at 31.
The clashes, weeks before polls the ruling AK Party hopes will restore its majority, threaten to sink a peace process President Tayyip Erdogan launched in 2012 in an attempt to end an insurgency that has killed more than 40,000 people.
"Those mountains will be cleared of these terrorists. Whatever it takes, they will be cleared," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference after a meeting with the chief of the military general staff.
"The mountains, plains and cities of this country will not be left to terrorists. That's it. Our sorrow is deep and grave."
The PKK launched its insurgency in 1984 with the aim of carving out a state in the mainly Kurdish southeast. It later moderated its goal to strengthening Kurdish political rights.
Some Turks fear Kurds in Syria, backed by the United States in their fight against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and Kurds in Iraq, as well as the PKK, harbor ambitions of an independent contiguous Kurdish state.