Turkish military authorities announced Dec. 26 that fighter jets again hit bases of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, in a third confirmed cross-border air raid in the past 10 days. Ankara called the raids an “effective pinpoint operation” targeting eight caves and other hideouts being used by the PKK in the Zap Valley near the Turkish border.
In Iraq, Jabar Yawar, deputy minister of the Kurdish Regional Government’s peshmerga militia, said the areas hit were deserted, and there were no civilian casualties.
Inside Turkey, six PKK fighters were killed in clashes with security forces in the Küpeli Mountains, located in Şırnak province, bordering Iraq, the General Staff also said. The latest deaths bring the PKK’s death toll to 11 since the operation began on the previous day.
The attack follows two air strikes on Dec. 16 and Dec. 22 against PKK targets in northern Iraq. The military also has confirmed that it sent ground troops to hunt down PKK fighters on Dec. 18. Iraqi Kurdish officials said the ground operation involved some 300 soldiers and lasted 15 hours before the soldiers returned to Turkey.
Iraqi Kurdish officials also maintain there were two more attacks on Dec. 23 and Dec. 25, but these have been confirmed by the military. The Turkish General Staff said more than 200 PKK targets were hit in the Dec. 16 strikes, with between 150 and 175 “terrorists” killed—contradicting the claims of Iraqi Kurdish authorities, who say there were few casualties, and overwhelmingly civilian.
Ankara also disputes the claims of local Kurdish authorities that some 380 families have been displaced by the air raids. “It is clear that such baseless claims encouraging terror, the common enemy of humanity, can only harm those who fabricate them,” a Turkish army statement read. (Zaman, Turkey; NYT, Dec. 26)