Jun 11 2018

Turkey launches air strikes on PKK in Iraq’s Qandil and Sinjar

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday that Turkish warplanes had launched air strikes on northern Iraqi bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a rebel group that has been fighting for more Kurdish self-rule inside Turkey for more than 30 years.

Erdoğan has threatened for months to launch operations against PKK bases in Sinjar, northwest Iraq, and Qandil, in the northeast.

“We’ve started anti-terror operations in Qandil and Sinjar. We’ve destroyed 14 important targets with our 20 aircraft,” state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Erdoğan as telling a campaign rally for the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections.

The planes had returned following a successful mission, he said, but operations into northern Iraq would continue.

“Our target is to drain the biggest swamp," Erdoğan said in reference to the Qandil Mountain base where the PKK has its headquarters.

Facing a stronger and more united opposition than in previous polls, analysts had speculated Erdoğan might launch a military operation into Iraq and/or Syria in an attempt to boost his popularity at home.

The PKK has promised to escalate its campaign of violence inside Turkey this summer, Iraqi Kurdish news outlet Rudaw said this month.

After more than three decades of fighting and the loss of some 40,000 lives, most of them Kurdish, Turkish forces have so far failed to quell the PKK armed campaign in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey, let alone with multiple cross-border operations into neighbouring Iraq and Syria.