Sun, Oct 19, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Turkish warplanes strike Kurdish bases 100km inside Iraq


Turkish warplanes carried out airstrikes inside Iraq on Friday on the main bases used by Kurdish rebels, the military said.

The jet fighters bombed Mount Qandil, an area about 100km inside Iraq, where the leadership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, is believed to be hiding.

“The operations that were carried out during the day were successful and all planes have returned safely to their base,” the military said.

There was no immediate comment from the rebels and the claims could not be independently verified.

It is the latest of a series of Turkish airstrikes against rebel hideouts in northern Iraq, which the rebels use as a launch pad for attacks against targets inside Turkey.

Earlier on Friday, the military said it intercepted Kurdish rebel radio chatter indicating that up to 35 guerrillas had been killed in clashes with troops earlier this week in southeastern Sirnak Province.

The intercepted conversation indicated that the rebels buried some bodies and took away the rest, apparently to disguise their heavy losses, a military spokesman Brigadier General Metin Gurak.

Gurak said the military was not able to confirm the rebel deaths in the rugged area.

The Turkish military has long accused the Kurdish rebels of hiding their dead to conceal losses.

There was no immediate rebel comment on the military’s statement.

The clashes between Turkish troops and the rebels have escalated since the Kurdish rebels killed 17 soldiers in an Oct. 3 attack on a military unit on the border.

The PKK, branded a terrorist group by the US and the EU, has been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have been killed.

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