10 PKK fighters killed as Turkiye strikes northern Iraq

10 PKK fighters killed as Turkiye strikes northern Iraq

IRBIL (AFP): Ten fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were killed, Iraqi Kurdish authorities said Thursday, as Turkiye said it launched renewed air strikes on northern Iraq.

Turkiye has intensified its cross-border air raids against Kurdish targets in northeastern Syria and northern Iraq in retaliation for an October 1 suicide bombing in Ankara which injured two policemen.

That attack was claimed by a branch of the outlawed PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkiye and is considered a “terrorist” group by Ankara and its Western allies.

“Nine PKK fighters were killed in a series of air strikes launched by Turkish warplanes and drones” in Irbil province in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, the Kurdish counter-terrorism service said in a statement.

A tenth PKK member was killed and three others wounded in “the bombing of several locations” belonging to the group in Dohuk province, it added.

Turkiye’s defense ministry on Thursday confirmed conducting air strikes on targets in five areas of northern Iraq, saying “many terrorists were neutralized.”

“A total of 19 targets including caves, shelters and depots used by terrorists.. were successfully destroyed and many terrorists were neutralized,” it said of the strikes which were carried out on Wednesday.

The Turkish military rarely comments on its operations in Iraq but it frequently carries out ground and air offensives against the PKK and its positions in northern Iraq.

Earlier this month, Turkiye’s parliament extended the military’s authorization to launch cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq by two more years.

Such operations were first approved in 2013 to support the international campaign against the Daesh group, and have since been renewed annually.

Over the past 25 years, Turkiye has installed dozens of military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan to fight against the PKK, which also has outposts there.

The Iraqi federal government in Baghdad and Kurdish authorities in Irbil have for years been accused of turning a blind eye to the Turkish bombardments to preserve their strategic alliance with Ankara, a key trading partner, despite statements protesting violations of Iraqi sovereignty and harm to civilians.

In summer 2022, nine people died when artillery shells hit a recreational park in the Iraqi Kurdish border village of Parakh, with most of those killed holidaymakers from southern Iraq.

Baghdad blamed Turkiye for the strike but Ankara denied responsibility and pointed the finger at the PKK.

In late July, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani’s office announced that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would visit Iraq but so far, no date has been set.