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Ankara jets pound PKK positions in SE Turkey, N Iraq

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)
The file photo shows a Turkish fighter jet flying above the Incirlik airbase, southern Turkey. ©AP

Turkish warplanes have conducted fresh airstrikes against militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), hitting the group’s positions in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq.

Security sources said on Saturday that 20 Turkish jets took off from the southern Diyarbakir air base and bombed sites in Turkey’s Sirnak Province as well as the Iraqi regions of Hakurk, Avasin and Qandil.

According to the sources, two separate rounds of air raids were carried out in Sirnak after receiving an intelligence tip-off.

In another development on Saturday, one Turkish soldier was killed while two police officers sustained injuries in a PKK rocket attack in the city of Nusaybin, located near the Syrian border.

Ankara has been engaged in a large-scale anti-PKK campaign in its southern border region in the past few months. The Turkish military has also been pounding the group’s positions in northern Iraq as well in breach of the country’s sovereignty.

Turkey’s operations began in the wake of a deadly July 2015 bombing in the southern town of Suruc. Over 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

The photo taken on February 3, 2016 shows smokes rising over Sur, Diyarbakir, Turkey. ©AFP

After the bombing, the PKK militants, who accuse the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, prompting the Turkish military operations.

A shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 was declared null and void by the militants following the Turkish aerial assaults against the group.

The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey since 1984. The conflict has left more than 40,000 people dead.

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