Turkey has launched a ground and air cross-border offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said early on Monday.
Turkish jets and artillery struck targets belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, before commandos, supported by helicopters and drones, crossed into the neighbouring region by land or were airlifted by helicopters, Mr Akar said in a video posted on the ministry’s website.
The jets “successfully” struck shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots and headquarters belonging to the PKK, AP reported Mr Akar as saying.
The PKK has bases in northern Iraq and has used the territory for attacks on Turkey.
Operation Claw Lock is aimed at “preventing terror attacks” to “ensure our border security”, Mr Akar said.
Turkey has conducted cross-border aerial and ground operations against the PKK over the past decades. The latest offensive was centred in northern Iraq’s Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan regions, Mr Akar said.
“Our operation is continuing successfully, as planned. The targets that were set for the first phase have been achieved,” he said.
He said the incursion was targeting “terrorists” and that “maximum sensitivity” was being shown to avoid damage to civilians and cultural and religious structures.
There was no immediate statement from the PKK.
The PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which in the past was mainly focused in south-east Turkey.
Turkish officials privately say they believe Baghdad is firmly on their side in fighting the PKK, which is also designated a terrorist group by the US and the EU.