Mon, May 12, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Turkish warplanes bomb rebel areas inside northern Iraq

AP AND AFP , ANKARA

Warplanes and artillery units destroyed key Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq — including a communications center — in a second day of raids on rebel positions, the military said yesterday.

Turkish troops “intensely and effectively” struck rebel targets in the Avasin-Basyan area in northern Iraq late on Saturday but were careful to avoid civilians or local Iraqi Kurdish forces, the military said, without giving any casualty toll.

“All targets have been hit with accuracy and terrorists in the targeted facilities have been rendered ineffective,” the military said in a statement released on its Web site.

In a separate statement a few hours later, the military said it struck a rebel “media and propaganda” center. It gave no other details.

Rebels from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), have been fighting for self-rule in Turkey’s southeast since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have died in the violence.

Rebels had attacked a Turkish military station in Hakkari Province late on Friday, prompting the military to strike back that night. Six soldiers and 19 rebels were killed in the violence, the military said.

The rebels, however, denied on Saturday suffering any losses.

The “intensive” bombing in the Avasin-Basyan region, which started at 1500 GMT on Saturday backed by artillery fire, destroyed several PKK facilities.

The militants had retreated there after taking part in a deadly attack on a Turkish military outpost near the border on Friday night, a statement from the Turkish military said.

MORE TO COME

“The Turkish Armed Forces will continue to fight terrorism with an increasing determination and any treacherous act against the Turkish Republic and its army will be given an immediate and multifold response,” the statement said.

At least 19 rebels and six soldiers were killed in clashes and a bombing raid in southeastern Turkey late on Friday and early on Saturday after the PKK attacked a military outpost near the Iraqi border in Hakkari Province.

The PKK attack was carried out “to change the atmosphere of panic” among the group’s ranks that followed a Turkish air raid on rebel positions in northern Iraq on May 1 and May 2 that “dealt the terrorist organization a serious blow,” the army said on Saturday.

GIVING UP?

It also reported disarray within the group, with several leaders allegedly abandoning their mountain hideouts and many militants fleeing their camps.

The May 1 and May 2 strike, which targeted rebel camps in the Qandil mountains, a major PKK stronghold along the Iraqi-Iranian border, resulted in the killing of more than 150 PKK militants, the army said.

Many of the some 200 militants believed to remain based in Qandil had laid down their arms and fled deeper into northern Iraq, dispersing in settlements in the region, which is run by the Iraqi Kurds, it said.

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