Turkish jets hit PKK in northern Iraq
ANKARATurkish fighter jets conducted a large-scale aerial campaign on Feb. 17 targeting outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in northern Iraq.
Turkish Air Force jets targeted a group of 70 militants including senior PKK leaders in the Haftanin region in northern Iraq.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the airstrikes were conducted upon intelligence that senior PKK leaders were among around 70 militants based at the Haftanin camp.
“Our armed forces conducted a large-scale operation on the Haftanin camp,” Davutoğlu said early Feb. 18, speaking following a visit to the Turkish General Staff to express his condolences over a deadly suicide bombing in the Turkish capital that killed at least 28 on Feb. 17.
“Around 70 members of the separatist terrorist organization, among of who were several ringleaders in the Haftanin camp, were neutralized,” the Turkish premier said, underscoring that the airstrikes were conducted upon intelligence gathered over a well-rounded information work.
The aerial campaign came hours after the suicide attack that targeted shuttles carrying military personnel in Ankara.
As of Feb. 18, 28 people were reported killed and 61 others injured in the suicide bomb attack carried out at the heart of the Turkish capital, just a few hundred meters away from top military headquarters, parliament and the prime minister’s office.
The Turkish General Staff condemned the attack in a statement, and added there were military personnel among the casualties.
The capital has been the site of terrorist attacks quite recently, as two suicide bombers, purported to be members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), killed 101 people on Oct. 10, 2015, during a demonstration of peace activists near Ankara’s main train station.
The latest bombing – currently blamed by the Turkish administration on the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which the government considers as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK – fuelled tensions between the Turkish government and the militant group, with Davutoğlu saying the Syrian regime was behind the deadly attack.
“The YPG is a tool of the Syrian regime and the regime is directly responsible for this attack. The right to take all kinds of measures against the Syrian regime is reserved for us,” the Turkish premier said speaking at a press conference after his visit to the general staff.
“We will not step back,” said Davutoğlu hours after the attack on Feb. 17, vowing to boost military operations against the YPG inside and outside Turkish borders.