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Turkey again bombs Kurds in Iraq

Turkish warplanes bomb Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq in the latest in a series of cross-border air strikes.

world Updated: Jan 16, 2008 02:38 IST

Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq on Tuesday in the latest in a series of cross-border air strikes, Turkey's military and northern Iraqi security forces said.

“Intensive” strikes targeted Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) positions in the regions of Zap-Sivi, Avasin-Basyan and Hakurk, the Turkish army general staff announced in a statement on its website.

“The aircraft returned safely to base after successfully completing their mission,” it said, adding that “maximum care” was taken to avoid civilian casualties. It gave no toll.

General Jabbar Yawar, spokesman for the Kurdish peshmerga security forces of northern Iraq, said the air strikes had been preceded by an artillery barrage.

“The Turkish artillery bombarded the areas of Khakurg and Nirikan near Amadiyah,” some 450 kilometres north of Baghdad, Yawar said in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil.

“Turkish military planes then took up the offensive and bombarded the same areas,” added Jawar, who said the attack had lasted nearly two hours.

Casualty figures were not immediately available from the areas hit in the strikes, which Yawar said were uninhabited.

A Kurdish Democratic Party official in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the bombardments had struck across a 15-kilometre strip along the border and five kilometres inside Iraq.

It was the fourth air strike against PKK targets in northern Iraq the Turkish military has confirmed since December 16, in addition to a cross-border ground operation to stop a group of militants seeking to infiltrate Turkey.

Iraqi Kurds, who run northern Iraq, reported two other air operations in December that Ankara did not confirm.

Turkey has massed up to 100,000 soldiers near the Iraqi border, and in October, the Turkish parliament gave a one-year authorisation for cross-border military action against the PKK.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday he could not predict when the offensive against Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq would end.

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