Turkish military attacks PKK camps in Iraq for 2nd day

TODAYSZAMAN

Turkey has continued a heavy air and artillery assault with 16 warplanes on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization targets in northern Iraq starting from 10 p.m. Turkish time on Thursday for the 2nd day after a declaration by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an that he had lost patience with separatists fighting in southeastern Turkey.
State-run broadcaster TRT said on its website Turkish warplanes had hit camps in Kandil, Northern Iraq, belonging to the PKK. It gave no further details.
PKK separatists use the mountains of northern Iraq as sanctuary from which to launch attacks in Southeast Turkey. The raids, the first by Turkey in the area since July 2010, responded to a surge in PKK action in recent months and an ambush on Wednesday that killed nine servicemen.

At least 12 warplanes took off from an air base in Diyarbak?r, southeastern Turkey, on Thursday around 1830 GMT, a Reuters witness said, but it was not immediately clear where they were headed. Turkish military officials were not immediately available for comment on the warplanes’ destination.

Turkish broadcasters say 16 warplanes participated in aerial raids in northern Iraq.

Earlier on Thursday, the Turkish General Staff said artillery hit 168 targets in the region overnight before warplanes pounded 60 positions in two waves. Camps housing the PKK’s leaders were among those targeted, security sources said.

“Our patience has finally run out. Those who do not distance themselves from terrorism will pay the price,” Erdo?an said on Wednesday on the sidelines of a conference in ?stanbul.

His comments and subsequent major air operation indicate a return to a hardline stance in the 27-year-old fight against the PKK and an end to clandestine talks between the state and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.

After a clear victory in June’s parliamentary election, Erdo?an vowed to press ahead with reforms addressing the 12-million-strong Kurdish minority’s grievances. A wave of PKK attacks has brought an abrupt change of tone and heightened prospects of intensified conflict.

As well as continuing the air assaults, the armed forces could launch a ground incursion against the militants in northern Iraq, as they have in the past. Further legal action could also be taken against Kurdish politicians, currently boycotting parliament and accused of close links to the PKK.

Some commentators backed the stronger response but there was also concern about its consequences. The militants could in turn strike back by staging urban attacks.

The General Staff said in a statement the strikes had centred on Kandil Mountain, Hakurk, Avasin-Basyan, Zap and Metina regions. All planes had returned safely to their bases on Wednesday.

It said operations would continue until the PKK was “rendered ineffective”.


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