ANKARA: Turkish fighter jets continued to strike targets of suspected Kurdish militants in northern Iraq on Wednesday, while commandos carried out a search-and-sweep operation, the Turkish Defense Ministry said, as the army was continuing its latest foray into the neighboring region.
The Turkish military on Friday launched a new ground and air offensive against militants of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, who maintain bases in northern Iraq and have used the territory for attacks on Turkey.
It was the first Turkish incursion into the region since February, when 13 Turkish citizens, kidnapped by Kurdish insurgents, were found dead in a cave complex in a seemingly botched operation to save them.
Turkey has carried out numerous cross-border air and ground operations against the PKK over the past decades and the latest offensive has been centered in the northern regions of Iraq, Metina and Avashin-Basyan.
A statement from the Defense Ministry said the operation was continuing “as planned”, with suspected PKK targets struck “both from the air and from the ground”.
The commando troops, which were airlifted to the area, “left nothing behind” while destroying suspected PKK shelters, caves, weapons, ammunition, homemade explosives and mines, according to the report. the press release.
The PKK described the latest incursion as a “genocidal attack” and called on “world democracies” to take a stand against Turkey.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the PKK, designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, launched an insurgency in the Kurdish-majority Kurdish southeast region in 1984.