PKK kills 2 soldiers as Turkey hits Qandil Mountains

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ESKISEHIR, TURKEY - JUNE 12: Turkish Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar monitors the air operations towards Iraq's Qandil, Sinjar, Hakurk and Avasin-Basyan regions at Combined Air Operations Center in Eskisehir, Turkey on June 12, 2018. Sarp Ozer / Anadolu Agency

Kurdish militants fired on military vehicles in southeastern Turkey on Wednesday, killing two soldiers and wounding another, in the latest of a series of attacks, Reuters reported, citing the local governor’s office.

The Turkish Armed Forces later said its warplanes had carried out airstrikes in northern Iraq, killing 10 militants in the Avaşin-Basyan and Sinat Haftanin areas and destroying weapons stores and shelters.

The incidents come ahead of nationwide elections in Turkey on Sunday. There has been a wave of Turkish airstrikes on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) bases in northern Iraq, especially on its stronghold in the Qandil Mountain region.

“Members of the separatist terror group carried out a rocket attack in which two military personnel were martyred and one was wounded,” the Hakkari Governor’s Office said, using Ankara’s term for the PKK.

The attack on Wednesday morning targeted military vehicles leaving a hillside base in the Çukurca district of the province, on the border with Iraq, it said.

Ankara has warned it might launch a ground offensive into the Qandil region, where high-ranking PKK members are believed to be based. President Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to “drain the terror swamp” there.

Erdoğan said on Wednesday Turkey had carried out two air operations targeting Qandil, the second of which had struck a meeting of PKK commanders.

“We dealt with a team of their leaders that was meeting in Qandil,” Erdoğan said during a campaign rally in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa. He did not provide further details or say when the strikes occurred.

On Tuesday three Turkish soldiers were killed in bomb attacks blamed on the PKK in the southeastern provinces of Siirt and Şırnak.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the PKK launched its insurgency in 1984. It is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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