Turkish jets keep bombing rebels
Hakkari - Turkish jets kept up bombing raids
on Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq overnight, as the rebels confirmed that
some Turkish troops crossed into Iraq, officials and media reports said on Friday.
Turkish war planes continued to take off from
Diyarbakir, the regional capital of the mainly Kurdish southeast, to strike at
Kurdish rebels who killed 24 soldiers in a string of coordinated attacks on
Wednesday, local security forces said.
The Turkish army said Friday that the air and
ground strikes against the rebels are "mainly" in Turkey.
"While the majority of the land and air
operations are in (Turkey), mainly in the Cukurca region, ground and air
strikes are ongoing in a few points in northern Iraq across the border,"
the army said in a statement posted on its website.
A small group of specially trained Turkish
troops crossed into Iraq from the villages of Yekmal and Bilecan on the Turkish
side of the border and entered the Dola Sulo region in Haftanin, sources from
the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) said, Kurdish news agency Firatnews reported
Gunshots and the sound of helicopters
overhead were heard overnight in Turkey's Hakkari province near the border, an
AFP photographer at the scene said.
The Turkish army on Thursday initiated
"a large-scale land operation" with 22 battalions against the rebels
in five separate spots inside and across the border, according to the general
staff. The ground incursion is supported with air strikes, it said.
Around 10 000 soldiers took part in the
operation, Turkish media reported Friday. Some 6 000 of them were special
forces, the daily Sabah said.
The battalions comprise commando units as
well as gendarmerie and special forces, the army has said, without specifying
how many had entered Iraq.
"The air and land operation is under
way," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters right after the
On Friday Erdogan is expected to meet with
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who is on a surprise visit to Turkey
after a string of coordinated PKK attacks caused Turkish uproar.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
invited Salehi, the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the
Anatolia news agency.
Salehi will also meet with Davutoglu and
President Abdullah Gul, who said Turkey would exact "ahuge revenge" against
the PKK for the attacks.
The loss of 24 soldiers was the worst death
toll for the army since 1993, when 33 unarmed soldiers were killed in Bitlis
Since July, Tehran has been carrying out a
major offensive against the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), which
Turkey considers a branch of the PKK.
Clashes between the PKK and the army have
escalated since the summer.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation
by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms in
Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has
claimed some 45 000 lives.