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15 PKK militants 'neutralized' in northern Iraq: Turkey

The file photo shows a Turkish F-16 jet returning to a military airbase in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, November 9, 2007. (Photo by Reuters)

Turkey's military has claimed to have "neutralized" 15 militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) after striking the group's hideouts and armories in Iraq.

“Fifteen armed members of the separatist terror organisation, who were in preparations for an attack to military bases, were neutralized," said the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) in a statement after the Friday operation.

The airstrikes targeted Gara, Zap and Avasin-Basyan regions of northeastern Iraq, near the Turkish border. The Zap area, along with other locations in the mountainous Qandil area, is known to be Kurdish separatist strongholds.

The Turkish military generally uses the term "neutralize" to signify that the militants were killed, captured or surrendered.

Turkey, along with the European Union and the United States, has declared the PKK a terrorist group and banned it. The militant group has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since and PKK militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.

Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.

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