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Kurdish authorities report casualties after Turkey strikes PKK in Iraq and Syria

Syria attack

This file picture taken on October 16, 2019, from the outskirts of the town of Tal Tamr near the Syrian Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain along the border with Turkey in the northeastern Hassakeh province, shows a large smoke plume from a tire fire billowing to decrease visibility for Turkish warplanes during the continuing deadly cross-border Turkish offensive against Syria's Kurdish forces that has sparked an international outcry. Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP

Turkish warplanes carried out strikes against the Kurdish militants in northern Iraq and Syria, the Turkish defense ministry said Wednesday, with authorities in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region reporting casualties, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Turkish warplanes targeted several positions of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters” on Tuesday, including in the Makhmur and Sinjar regions, Kurdish counter-terrorism services said, without specifying the number of the dead or wounded.

The Turkish defense ministry said it carried out strikes in “the regions of Derik, Sinjar and [Mount] Kararak in northern Iraq and Syria” targeting suspected bases of the PKK and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a US-backed Syrian Kurdish group that Ankara considers a “terrorist” offshoot of the PKK.

“Shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots and alleged headquarters and training camps” were targeted, the ministry said.

Viewed as a “terrorist” group by Turkey and its Western allies after a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state, the PKK has bases and training camps in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq and on the mountainous border with Turkey.

“Turkish military aircraft bombed six PKK positions in the Karjokh mountains,” said the Kurdish counter-terrorism services statement.

It said Turkish jets carried out strikes on “two other positions in the Sinjar mountains and the adjacent area in Syria.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, reported a “strike by a Turkish drone” on a Syrian Kurdish position near the Rmeilan oil field in the Kurdish-controlled northeast.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has threatened to “clean up” parts of northern Iraq, accuses the PKK of using the mountainous border area as a springboard for its insurgency.

Turkish forces routinely conduct military strikes against suspected PKK hideouts in the area, straining Ankara’s relations with Baghdad.

In December, Turkey carried out retaliatory air strikes in northern Iraq after three Turkish soldiers died in a PKK attack.

Ankara has mounted successive air and ground offensives targeting rear bases of the PKK rebels, whose insurgency has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.

Turkey also has a military presence in neighboring Syria, where it has seized swathes of territory in successive military operations since 2016.

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