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Turkey carries out threat, bombs Kurds

Turkish planes bomb villages inside northern Iraq targeting Kurdish rebels in the second such operation this month.

world Updated: Dec 16, 2007 23:04 IST

Turkish planes bombed villages inside northern Iraq on Sunday targeting Kurdish rebels in at least the second such operation this month even as Ankara held back from launching a ground assault.

One woman was killed in the airstrikes, an official in Iraq said.

“According to our preliminary reports, eight Turkish warplanes bombed some villages along the border near the Qandil mountains early on Sunday,” said Jabbar Yawar, spokesperson for the Kurdish militia that provides security in northern Iraq.

In Ankara, the Turkish army confirmed its warplanes had carried out air strikes on Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq. The planes hit the “regions of Zap, Hakurk and Avasin as well as the Qandil mountains”, the general staff said in a statement.

The rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a deadly insurgency in southeastern Turkey since 1984, maintains a network of rear-bases in the rugged Qandil mountains near where the borders of Iraq, Iran and Turkey meet.

The Turkish military said the bombardment began at 1:00 am local time and all its aircraft had returned safely to base by 4:15 am. Artillery continued to pound the targets once the planes had left. The military stressed that the raids targeted the PKK, not Iraqi Kurds.

Yawar said the air strikes damaged some bridges connecting villages near the Qandil mountains. “Some families are fleeing from the villages attacked today. We have dispatched our border teams to check the casualties and damage,” he added.

The Turkish parliament gave the army authorisation to launch cross-border operations in October but Ankara has so far held back from any ground operation amid strong lobbying by Washington.

The US has expressed concern that any ground incursion might unsettle the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, the most stable area in the country. But Turkey has warned Iraq that it reserves the right to resort to a ground assault.