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Turkish jets launch air raids against ISIL, PKK targets

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An AFP photo taken on on June 21, 2015 shows an F-16 fighter jet belonging to the Turkish Air Force.

Turkey has launched a second wave of aerial raids against the ISIL hideouts in Syria and extended its bombing campaign to military positions of Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in neighboring Iraq.

According to local reports, Turkish F-16 fighter jets took off from their base in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir to conduct a new wave of airstrikes against what was said to be ISIL targets on the Syrian soil.

The latest air raids came just hours after Turkish warplanes bombed ISIL positions in Syria on Friday morning.

Some reports indicate that at least nine ISIL militants were killed and a dozen more were wounded in the first bombing operation earlier in the day.

The air raids were ordered in the wake of a deadly ISIL bomb attack in Suruc -- located in southern Turkey near the Syrian border and opposite the Syrian town of Kobani -- that killed 32 activists on Monday. A series of cross-border attacks by the ISIL militants also claimed the life of a Turkish soldier on Thursday.

Demonstrators march with a poster showing the faces of victims killed in a bomb attack in the southern Turkish town of Suruc on July 22, 2015 in Ankara. (AFP photo)

Meanwhile, sources say Turkish fighter jets have also bombed at least five camps of the militants on Kandil Mountain in northern Iraq, which is known as the stronghold of the PKK.  

“At around 11:00 p.m. tonight, Turkish warplanes started bombing our positions near the border, accompanied by heavy artillery shelling," media outlets quoted Bakhtiar Dogan, a PKK spokesman in Iraq, as saying.  

Ankara has been engaged in a long conflict with the PKK, which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.

In March 2013, Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned PKK leader, declared a historic ceasefire following months of negotiations with the Turkish government. In return, the PKK demanded amendments to the penal code and electoral laws as well as the right to education in the Kurdish language and a degree of regional autonomy. 

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has recently vowed to continue operations against what Ankara calls ISIL positions as well as militants from the PKK.

"Turkey will show the strongest reaction to the slightest movement that threatens it," Davutoglu said, adding, "The operation against ISIL reached its target and will not stop." 

Turkey has also rounded up hundreds of people, including dozens of foreigners, in nationwide raids against suspected members of the ISIL, PKK, and other groups.

Turkish special force police officers take position near the Istanbul Police headquarters on April 1, 2015. (AFP Photo)

The latest developments mark a major shift in policy towards ISIL by Turkey, which is facing severe criticism for not doing enough to battle the terrorists.

The Turkish government has been one of the main supporters of the terrorist groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2011, with reports showing that Ankara actively trains and arms the militants operating in Syria, and also facilitates the safe passage of would-be foreign terrorists into the country.

Apart from Turkey, the US and its regional allies, namely Qatar and Saudi Arabia, support the militants operating inside Syria.

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