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Blast kills 3 Turkish soldiers 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)
A Turkish soldier stands guard during a military parade on July 20, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey's Defense Ministry says three Turkish soldiers have been killed in an explosion in northern Iraq.

The ministry said on Monday that an improvised explosive device planted by militants went off on Sunday in a region where Turkey was conducting a cross-border operation against militants from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

According to the ministry, two Turkish soldiers were also wounded in the incident.

In a separate incident, another Turkish soldier was killed and one injured in a shootout with Kurdish militants near a Turkish military base.

Turkish military forces launched operations Pence-Simsek and Pence-Yildirim on April 23 in northern Iraq’s Metina and Avasin-Basyan regions in pursuit of PKK militants.

Militants of the PKK — designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union — regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since. More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.

Baghdad has previously condemned Turkey’s ongoing military operations in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region against purported PKK positions, stating that Ankara intends to seize control of the strategic northwestern city of Mosul and annex it to its own territory.

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