Sat, May 03, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Turkish warplanes bomb Kurdish rebel positions

AGENCIES , ARBIL, IRAQ AND ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Turkish warplanes launched intensive bombing raids on Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq overnight but there were no reports of any casualties, a rebel spokesman said yesterday.

The air strikes began at 11:30pm on Thursday and lasted for three hours, targeting bases belonging to the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an off-shoot of the PKK fighting against Iran.

“There has been heavy bombing and many Turkish planes were involved. So far, we have no word of any casualties,” PKK spokesman Ahmed Danees said by telephone.

The PKK uses northern Iraq as a base to stage attacks on Turkish territory. Turkey blames the PKK, which is fighting for an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey, for the deaths of more than 40,000 people.

Turkish state news agency Anatolian had earlier reported that air strikes began just before midnight and continued into yesterday.

Military sources said that at least 30 planes were involved in the raids, which they said targeted senior PKK members in Iraq’s remote Qandil mountains.

The group’s top leadership is believed to be hiding in Mount Qandil, which straddles the Iraq-Iran border and is 100km from the frontier between Iraq and Turkey.

Turkish forces have stepped up strikes in the past week against PKK bases in northern Iraq and have launched operations against the rebels inside Turkey. Turkish troops conducted a large-scale incursion across the border in February.

Firat, a pro-Kurdish news agency based in Europe, confirmed the bombing, saying it lasted three hours.

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