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regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

Turkiye launches airstrikes against Kurdish militants in Iraq and Syria after 9 soldiers were killed

On Friday night, attackers attempted to infiltrate a military base in northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, killing five soldiers. Another four died later of critical injuries

AP Istanbul Published 13.01.24, 02:39 PM
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Turkiye carried out airstrikes targeting Kurdish militants in neighbouring Iraq and Syria on Saturday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said. This comes a day after an attack on a Turkish military base in Iraq killed nine Turkish soldiers.

Turkiye often launches strikes against targets in Syria and Iraq it believes to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a banned Kurdish separatist group that has waged insurgency against Turkiye since the 1980s.

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The defense ministry said aircraft struck targets Metina, Hakurk, Gara and Qandil in north Iraq, but didn't specify which areas in Syria. It said fighter jets destroyed caves, bunkers, shelters and oil facilities “to eliminate terrorist attacks against our people and security forces ... and to ensure our border security." The statement added “many” militants were “neutralized” in the strikes.

On Friday night, attackers attempted to infiltrate a military base in northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, killing five soldiers. Another four died later of critical injuries. The Turkish defense ministry said 15 militants were also killed.

There was no immediate comment from the PKK, the government in Baghdad or the administration in the semiautonomous northern Kurdish region in Iraq.

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan expressed his condolences on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

“We will fight to the end against the PKK terrorist organization within and outside our borders,” he wrote.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to hold a security meeting in Istanbul later Saturday, Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish president's communications director wrote on X.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced police have detained 113 people suspected of ties to the PKK following raids across 32 Turkish provinces.

Three weeks ago, PKK-affiliated militants tried to break into a Turkish base in northern Iraq, according to Turkish officials, leaving six soldiers dead. The following day, six more Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes.

Turkiye retaliated by launching strikes against sites that officials said were associated with the PKK in Iraq and Syria. Defense Minister Yasar Guler said at the time that dozens of Kurdish militants were killed in airstrikes and land assaults.

It wasn't immediately clear if Friday night's attack and the one three weeks earlier targeted the same base.

The PKK, which maintains bases in northern Iraq, is considered a terror organization by Turkiye's Western allies, including the US Tens of thousands of people have died since the start of the conflict in 1984.

Turkiye and the U.S., however, disagree on the status of the Syrian Kurdish groups, which have been allied with Washington in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

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