Turkish jets pound Kurdish rebels in Iraq
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The air strike targeted Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in the Avasin Basyan region along the border, as ministers met to discuss fresh measures against the separatists after the killing of at least 15 soldiers at the weekend.
Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel hideouts in neighbouring Iraq Monday as senior ministers met to discuss fresh measures against the separatists after the killing of at least 15 soldiers last week.
The air strike targeted Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants holed up in the Avasin Basyan region along the border, following an initial operation Sunday night in which Turkish forces fired artillery at two other rebel groups detected in the same area, the military said.
The raid was "successful," the statetement said, without mentioning casualties.
It was the third Turkish air strike in northern Iraq since Friday when PKK militants crossing from their camps in the region attacked a Turkish military outpost at the Iraqi border, killing at least 15 soldiers.
At least 23 PKK rebels were killed in the ensuing clashes, the bloodiest between the army and the militants this year.
The PKK said in a statement Monday it had the bodies of two soldiers. The Turkish military has listed two men as missing.
The PKK claimed to have killed 62 Turkish soldiers and wounded more than 30, while putting its own losses at nine.
In Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened his ministers of the interior, defence, justice and foreign affairs to discuss fresh measures against the PKK after the attack on the outpost sparked nationwide outrage and triggered calls for tougher action against the rebels.
Ankara has long accused the Iraqi Kurds of tolerating the PKK on their territory, where, it says, the militants easily obtain weapons and explosives for attacks on Turkish targets across the border.
Turkish anger with the Iraqi Kurds flared again following Friday's bloodshed after the army said the rebels who attacked the outpost were backed by fire from heavy weapons positioned in northern Iraq.
"We have no support at all from the northern Iraqi administration (against the rebels). Let aside any support, they are providing (the rebels with) infrastructural capabilites such as hospitals and roads," the army's number two, General Hasan Igsiz, said Sunday.
Erdogan, for his part, urged the Iraqi Kurds to move against the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, saying that Ankara was "awaiting positive acts on the ground."
The Iraqi authorities have repeatedly pledged efforts to curb the PKK, but say that the group's hideouts are in mountainous regions to which access is difficult.
The Turkish parliament is expected to vote soon on extending by one year the government's mandate for cross-border military strikes in northern Iraq, where Ankara estimates about 2,000 PKK militants have takenh refuge.
The PKK took up arms for self-rule in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 44,000 lives.
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