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Turkish jets ‘destroy 12 PKK targets’ in 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)
Members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) inspect a crater reportedly caused by airstrikes by Turkish warplanes in the Qandil Mountains, northern Iraq, July 29, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish fighter jets have destroyed 12 targets belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, the Turkish military says, as the army steps up a campaign against militant positions in the Qandil region.

The Turkish military said on Tuesday that the overnight airstrikes hit targets — including shelters and ammunition depots — in Iraq’s northern regions of Qandil, Hakurk, and Avasin-Basyan.

The Turkish army has recently ramped up attacks against the PKK militants in northern Iraq, which has bases in the Qandil Mountains.

The mountains are located roughly 40 kilometers southeast of the Turkish border in Iraq’s Erbil Province. Ankara believes the rugged region is being used as the headquarters of the PKK, which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

Turkey’s military further said that 34 militants had been “neutralized” in operations in northern Iraq between June 1 and June 8.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that his country would drain the “terror swamp” in Qandil.

Turkey has conducted frequent airstrikes against PKK targets in northern Iraq. It previously carried out cross-border operations in the region in the 1990s and 2000s. A shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 was declared null and void by the militants in 2015 in the wake of a large-scale Turkish campaign against the group.

The Turkish government has been opening military fronts against Kurdish groups in Syria as well. Earlier this year, it launched the ongoing Olive Branch offensive against the purported positions of the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish militia in Syria’s western enclave of Afrin.

Ankara considers the YPG a terror group and the Syrian branch of the PKK. The Turkish operation has been launched without permission from the Syrian government.

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