10 PKK fighters killed in Turkish air strike on northern Iraq

Turkey has intensified its attacks on Kurdish targets in retaliation to a bombing in Ankara this month

Smoke billows following reported Turkish warplane raids, in the Amadiyah district, northeast of Dohuk in the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Ten fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were killed, Iraqi Kurdish authorities said on Thursday, as Turkey said it launched renewed air strikes on northern Iraq.

Turkey has intensified its cross-border air raids against Kurdish targets in northeastern Syria and northern Iraq in retaliation for an October 1 suicide bombing in Ankara which injured two policemen.

That attack was claimed by a branch of the outlawed PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey and is considered a "terrorist" group by Ankara and its Western allies.

"Nine PKK fighters were killed in a series of air strikes launched by Turkish warplanes and drones" in Erbil province in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, the Kurdish counter-terrorism service said.

A tenth PKK member was killed and three others wounded while bombing several locations belonging to the group in Dohuk province, it added.

Turkey's defence ministry on Thursday confirmed conducting air strikes on targets in five areas of northern Iraq, saying "many terrorists were neutralised".

"A total of 19 targets including caves, shelters and depots used by terrorists ... were successfully destroyed," it said of the strikes which were carried out on Wednesday.

The Turkish military rarely comments on its operations in Iraq but it frequently carries out ground and air offensives against the PKK and its positions in northern Iraq.

Earlier this month, Turkey's parliament extended the military's authorisation to launch cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq by two more years.

The operations were first approved in 2013 to support the international campaign against the Islamic State group, and have since been renewed annually.

Over the past 25 years, Turkey has installed dozens of military bases in Kurdistan region to fight the PKK, which also has outposts there.

The Iraqi federal government in Baghdad and Kurdish authorities in Erbil have for years been accused of turning a blind eye to the Turkish bombardments, to preserve their strategic alliance with Ankara, a key trading partner, despite statements protesting violations of Iraqi sovereignty and harm to civilians.

In July 2022, nine people died when artillery shells hit a recreational park in the Iraqi Kurdish border village of Parakh, with most of those killed holidaymakers from southern Iraq.

Baghdad blamed Turkey for the strike but Ankara denied responsibility and pointed the finger at the PKK.

In late July, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al Sudani's office announced that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would visit Iraq but so far, no date has been set.

Updated: October 26, 2023, 3:30 PM