ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish forces have hit more than 500 Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq as part of an operation in the region against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.
Turkish warplanes struck PKK targets in various regions of northern Iraq on Sunday and Tuesday in two separate raids, which Ankara said were in response to an increase in militant attacks on Turkish army bases.
Ankara launched the “Claw-Tiger Operation” on Tuesday in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region.
A Defence Ministry statement said Turkish F-16 jets, drones and howitzers had hit and destroyed more than 500 PKK targets in 36 hours.
“The Claw-Tiger Operation is going very well. God willing, by continuing with the same seriousness and determination, we will conclude the operation with success,” the statement cited Defence Minister Hulusi Akar as saying.
Turkey regularly attacks PKK militants, both in its mainly Kurdish southeast and in northern Iraq, where the group is based. It has also warned in recent years of a potential ground offensive against PKK bases in Iraq’s Qandil mountains.
The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday Turkish and Iranian military interventions in Iraq violated Iraqi sovereignty. The UAE and Ankara have strained ties, including over the Libyan crisis where the two countries back opposing sides.
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.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler, William Maclean