Jun 12 2018

Turkey pushes ahead with Iraq strikes, kills 34 PKK

Turkey’s military struck Qandil, the main base of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in northern Iraq overnight in the second strike on the facility in two days.

The military, using F-16 jets, has killed 34 PKK fighters since the start of an operation on June 1, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday citing a military statement.

The Turkish government is ordering more strikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq after a similar operation in Syria against Kurdish forces affiliated to the group but loyal to the U.S. fight against Islamic State. The attacks come less than two weeks before presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey.

The latest attacks destroyed 12 targets in northern Iraq, Anadolu said.

Turkey carries out sporadic operations against the PKK in Iraq, but they have accelerated this year. The PKK, fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey, is recognized as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.

Qandil, a heavily fortified military base in the mountains of northern Iraq, is used by the PKK as a base to launch attacks against the military inside Turkey and to control other assets in northern Iraq.

Turkey has been establishing an increasing military presence in northern Iraq since March and might finally decide to storm Qandil with troops after a succession of threats in recent years, Paul Iddon, a freelance journalist based in Iraqi Kurdistan, wrote in an analysis for Ahval earlier on Tuesday, citing analysts and strategists.