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Turkish warplanes ‘neutralize’ 38 PKK members in northern Iraq: Report

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 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk.

Turkish warplanes have “neutralized” 38 militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, who were preparing to attack Ankara’s forces, security sources say.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency cited security sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying on Wednesday that the militants have been neutralized as part of air operations targeting PKK camps since March 10.

Turkish authorities use the word “neutralized” when militants are either killed or captured or when they surrender.

The sources noted that at least 15 caves and 30 shelters used by the PKK members were also destroyed.

Earlier, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement that 12 PKK militants were killed in Hakurk region of northern Iraq on Tuesday.

Turkey regularly carries out air strikes against PKK bases in Qandil mountains in northern Iraq.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the country’s troops could cross into Iraq to drive out the PKK from the northern region of Sinjar if Baghdad government fails to do so.

“If (Baghdad) cannot, we may turn up in Sinjar suddenly one night and clean up the PKK there,” Erdogan said.

Earlier in March, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara and Baghdad plan to carry out a joint military operation against PKK members in the northern parts of Iraq.

The PKK, viewed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, reportedly has camps in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq, from which it purportedly carries out attacks into Turkey.

Meanwhile, Turkey has vowed to further expand its military operations against Kurdish militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region to the eastern parts of the country, including the Syrian city of Manbij, as well as Ayn al-Arab or Kobani, and towns along the border to the east of the Euphrates River.

Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the PKK militant group that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

Turkey launched the Afrin offensive on January 20 after the United States said it sought to create a 30,000-strong force near the Turkish border in Syria with the help of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militant group, which is mainly comprised of YPG forces.

The Syrian government has already condemned the Turkish offensive against Afrin as an act of aggression. Over 280 civilians have lost their lives since the offensive began, according to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

The monitor also reported on Monday that militants with the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is backed by Turkey, had gone on a rampage in Afrin, pillaging shops and homes after capturing the city.

The FSA members broke into shops, restaurants and houses and left with foodstuff, electronic equipment, blankets and other goods, according to the SOHR report.

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