Turkish air force strikes Kurdish rebel positions in Iraq

May 3rd, 2008 - 6:19 am ICT by admin  

Baghdad/Ankara, May 3 (DPA) The Turkish military confirmed Friday that it carried out a series of bombing attacks on Kurdish rebel camps inside Iraq Thursday night. In a short statement posted on its official website, the Turkish General Staff said a number of warplanes took off at 11 p.m. (2000 GMT) Thursday night and attacked Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) positions in the Qandil mountains near Iraq’s border with Iran.

“After successfully completing their mission our planes returned safely to base,” the statement said, adding that the attacks targeted only PKK positions and that the pilots were careful not to harm civilian or local authority properties.

Kurdish sources told DPA that a number of Kurdish towns, including Sulaymanyah, were intensively raided by Turkish aircraft late Thursday.

The sources did not mention any casualties resulting from the airstrikes, but said that inhabitants had previously moved from the Kurdish areas fearing Turkish attacks.

The airstrikes are the third time Turkish warplanes have hit PKK rebels inside Iraq since the end two months ago of a a week-long incursion into northern Iraq which saw up to 10,000 soldiers sent across the border to seek out Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels and their camps.

According to the Turkish military, 240 PKK fighters, 24 Turkish soldiers and three Turkish state-employed village guards were killed in the week-long operation.

Ankara blames the separatist group for the deaths of more than 32,000 people since the early 1980s when the PKK began its fight for independence or autonomy for the mainly Kurdish-populated southeast of Turkey.

The PKK is listed by the US and the European Union as a terrorist group.

Meanwhile a US pilotless drone crashed in southern Iraq, Kurdish sources and the US military said Friday.

The drone, which was launched from Ali Base, crashed at approximately 4 a.m., a US military statement said. No exact location was given.

“The aircraft is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft,” the statement said.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but a technical error was expected to be the cause. An investigation was underway.

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