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Turkey launches airstrikes against PKK targets in northern 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)
File photo of people looking on as smoke rises on the Syrian side of the border in Hassa, near Hatay, southern Turkey, on January 28, 2018, as Turkish jet fighters hit PKK positions (By AFP)

Turkish jet fighters have launched an operation against Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq, according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry.

“The Claw-Eagle Operation has started. Our planes are bringing the caves down on the terrorists’ heads,” the ministry said on Twitter.

A source told Reuters the warplanes took off from various bases in Turkey, notably in the southeastern cities of Diyarbakir and Malatya, and struck PKK camps in Iraq, including in the area of the group’s stronghold at Qandil, near the Iranian border.

Turkey regularly targets Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, both in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast and in northern Iraq, where the group is based.

The PKK, designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, focused in southeast Turkey.

While Turkish warplanes frequently target PKK targets in northern Iraq, Turkey has also warned in recent years of a potential ground offensive targeting the PKK bases in the Qandil mountains near Iran's border.

A few days ago, Interior Minister of Turkey Suleyman Soylu claimed that there are around 100 “terrorists” in Iran’s Dambat, near Turkey, which “constitutes a real danger.”

However, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Force dismissed the claim as  “irresponsible and baseless”, saying the IRGC Ground Force  is vigorously present along the border with full preparedness, and is closely and constantly monitoring the situation across the border regions.

The presence of terrorist elements is among the red lines of Iran, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said, adding, “However, we understand that the recent operations by small (terrorists) groups on the Turkish soil have mounted pressure on the Turkish officials and have forced them to raise such a claim.”

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