Turkey to Keep Attacking PKK in Iraq: Foreign Ministry

Turkey to Keep Attacking PKK in Iraq: Foreign Ministry

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Turkish warplanes struck PKK targets in northern Iraq Saturday, the military said, ignoring protests from Baghdad that said Turkey's repeated airstrikes violate Iraqi sovereignty and endanger civilians.

Iraqi authorities summoned Turkey's ambassador in Baghdad Friday after Ankara said it had killed eight militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Turkey said it would continue attacking the PKK as long as it sought refuge in Iraq, Reuters reported.

In a statement on Twitter, Turkey's armed forces said they carried out airstrikes in northern Iraq on Dec. 14 and 15, killing seven militants. It was not immediately clear whether those casualties were in addition Friday's toll.

Turkey regularly hits PKK bases across its southern border, saying the militants use the mountainous northern Iraqi region as a base for deadly attacks inside Turkey, where the Kurdish separatist group has waged an insurgency since the 1980s.

In a speech Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish airstrikes against PKK targets in the Iraqi region of Sinjar earlier this week had "turned those places into their graveyards."

"We will bury them in the holes they dug," he told supporters in Turkey's southwestern city of Denizli.

Erdogan threatened to launch a ground offensive in northern Iraq earlier this year. This week he also announced an imminent operation against a Kurdish militia in neighboring Syria.

The US-backed YPG militia controls Syria's northeastern border with Turkey. Ankara says it is an extension of the PKK and poses a direct threat to Turkey.

"The activities of the PKK terrorist organization in the territory of Iraq and Syria have become a national security issue for Turkey," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.

Turkey's operations "will continue as long as terror organizations nest on Iraqi soil and as long as Turkey's security needs require it to," Aksoy said.

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