Fresh Turkish strikes on Kurdish PKK
rebels in Iraqi Kurdistan
August 19, 2011
DIYARBAKIR, The Kurdish
region of Turkey, — Turkey launched a second night
of air strikes on Kurdish guerrilla targets in Iraqi
Kurdistan late on Thursday, as Ankara responded to a
surge in activity by PKK separatists with its first
military operation in the region for more than a
State-run broadcaster TRT said on its website
Turkish warplanes had hit Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
camps in Qandil mountains, Northern Iraq. No further
details were available.
The separatists use the border mountainous region as
a sanctuary from which to launch attacks in
A Reuters witness earlier said at least 12 warplanes
had taken off late on Thursday from an air base in
the main Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, in southeastern
Turkish F-16 jets prepare to take off from military
airbase, in the Turkey's southeastern Kurdish city
of Diyarbakir. Photo: Xinhua
The latest raids followed an air and artillery
assault on PKK targets overnight on Wednesday that
was Ankara's response to a surge in rebel action in
recent months and an ambush on Wednesday that killed
The PKK carried out two simultaneous attacks on
Thursday night in Turkey's southeastern Kurdish
Siirt province, security sources said.
Militants fired rocket launchers and rifles in an
onslaught on a paramilitary gendarmerie post in Eruh,
killing two officers and wounding four soldiers.
In the nearby district of Pervari, rebels wounded
four civilians during similar attacks on security
The Turkish General Staff was yet to make a
statement on Thursday night's operation.
It said on Wednesday night that artillery hit 168
targets in the region before warplanes
pounded 60 positions in two waves.
Camps housing the PKK's commanders were among those
targeted, security sources said.
"Our patience has finally run out. Those who do not
distance themselves from terrorism will pay the
price," Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said
on Wednesday. He visited the home of a soldier
killed in this week's ambush on Thursday.
NEW HARDLINE STANCE
Erdogan's comments and subsequent major air
operation indicate a return to a hardline stance in
the 27-year-old fight against the rebels and an end
to clandestine talks between the state and jailed
PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
After a clear
June's parliamentary election, Erdogan vowed to
press ahead with reforms addressing the
12-million-strong Kurdish minority's grievances. A
wave of PKK attacks has brought an abrupt change of
tone and heightened prospects of intensified
As well as continuing the air assaults, the armed
forces may launch a ground incursion against the
militants in Kurdistan region in Iraq's north, as
they have in the past. Further legal
action also could be taken against
parliament and accused of close links to the PKK.
Turkey's National Security Council, chaired by
President Abdullah Gul, issued a written statement
after a regular meeting on Thursday, saying it would
adopt a "more effective and decisive fight in the
fight against terrorism," local media reported. It
did not elaborate on what those measures would be.
The air operation drew condemnation from the speaker
of parliament in northern Iraq's semi-autonomous
"This is a clear violation of Iraq's sovereignty,"
speaker Kamal Kirkuki said. "We strongly condemn the
shelling by Turkey and any other party on Iraqi
The military operations were apparent retaliation
for a PKK attack on a military convoy at Cukurca in
southeast Turkey's Hakkari province on Wednesday.
Eight soldiers and one member of the state-backed
village guard militia were
Last month, the PKK's Ocalan sent word through his
lawyers that he had agreed with Turkish officials to
set up a "peace council" aimed at ending the
conflict. But the mood turned sour after the PKK
troops in the biggest attack since the PKK
ended a ceasefire in February.
State talks with Ocalan ended in late July and since
then his lawyers have been unable to visit him in
his island prison near Istanbul. This week a court
banned four lawyers from representing him for a
Since it was established
in 1984, the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK has been
fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the
constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a
Kurdish state in the south east of the country,www.ekurd.netsparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous
and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who
constitute the greatest minority in Turkey,
numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees,
lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the
way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within
Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader
Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against
the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
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