Turkish jets carried out air strikes against a Kurdish separatist group’s bases in north Iraq for a fifth day yesterday, and began shelling for the first time, a rebel spokesman said.
“At about 11am, Turkish aircraft started bombing five areas,” Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) spokesman Ahmed Denis said by telephone.
He said the areas being bombed were Qandil, Khowakirk, Haftan, Jabal Mattine and Jabal Karra, all along Iraq’s border with Turkey.
He said the strikes were continuing as of 12:30pm, and that the Turkish army had begun artillery bombardments against Khowakirk, Zakarus and Ifsahim earlier in the morning.
Denis said Turkey had also carried out air strikes against Jabal Mattine and Haftan on Saturday night. He did not specify if there had been any casualties in the bombing or shelling.
He also said he believes the Turkish army is preparing for an incursion into north Iraq.
“The Turkish army is making preparations on the border with the Kurdistan region of Iraq to enter in a battle with members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party,” he said.
The Turkish military launched a first wave of bomb attacks on Wednesday against PKK targets in Iraq after a deadly attack by the rebel group against a military unit in Cukurca town in southeast Turkey that killed nine security personnel.
It was the first time in more than a year that the Turkish military has carried out air strikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq.
The military on Saturday released footage that it claimed showed attacks on positions — apparently pinpointed with the help of intelligence gathered by unmanned drones — that included a bridge, suspected rebel shelters and caves used as ammunition depots on Mount Qandil on the Iraqi-Iranian border and in the Hakurk area in northeastern Iraq.
The rebels have long used northern Iraq as a springboard for hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets in their campaign for autonomy in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast.
Danis said on Saturday that the Turkish strikes had hit bases already destroyed in previous strikes.
“Our fighters left these bases a while ago and now they are in constant mobility. Therefore there were no casualties, but there was damage to homes and land in villages which forced people to leave these areas,” he said.