3 Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq: ministry

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Three Turkish soldiers died Thursday in an attack in northern Iraq launched by outlawed Kurdish militants, prompting a retaliatory airstrike, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the Turkish Defense Ministry.

“Three of our heroic soldiers were killed in an attack staged by the terrorists in the north of Iraq,” the ministry said, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“There’s an ongoing operation in the region.”

Turkish forces routinely conduct military strikes against PKK hideouts in the mountains of northern Iraq, causing strains in its relations with the central Iraqi government in Baghdad.

Turkey launched its latest major air and ground offensive in April, targeting rear bases Kurdish militants have used to wage a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Turkey also has a military presence in neighboring Syria, where it has seized swathes of territory in successive military operations since 2016 that have mostly targeted another Kurdish rebel group.

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