Turkish jets, troops target militants in Iraq
AP photoTurkish fighter jets and ground troops have entered Iraq and targeted militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) following a militant attack that killed 16 soldiers and wounded six others in the southeastern province of Hakkari on Sept. 6.
The special forces unit of the Turkish Army entered northern Iraq to pursue the PKK militants, who fled Turkey after the deadly attack, and mark their positions for fighter jets to carry out attacks, according to military sources.
Some 160 soldiers assigned under the special forces, which is directly responsible to the Turkish General Staff, were deployed by air to the southeastern region where the attack took place. They followed two militant groups, consisting of 20 people, who were determined to be among the PKK members who staged the deadly attack in Hakkari.
Sixteen Turkish soldiers were killed and six others injured on Sept. 6 in a major attack in Hakkari’s Dağlıca locality that was conducted by the PKK, the Turkish General Staff said in a written statement on Sept. 7.
When the militants fled to northern Iraq, the special forces units also crossed over the border thanks to a mandate from the Turkish Armed Forces to take military action in Iraq and Syria that was renewed for another year on Sept. 3.
The soldiers stayed inside northern Iraq for a couple of hours, despite bad weather conditions, determined the coordinates of the PKK militants and also made necessary marks for an air campaign.
A total of 53 Turkish fighter jets launched an air campaign in northern Iraq for six hours after the units exited the country.
The air operation, which featured 35 F-16 jets and 18 F-4 2020s, started at 11 p.m. on Sept. 7 and lasted until 5 a.m. on Sept. 8.
Around 20 militants were killed with laser-guided bombs in places where the special forces units had marked them.
Twenty targets all consisting of PKK base camps in the region were also struck with 130 laser-guided bombs.
According to radio conversations, 60 PKK fighters were determined to be killed. Military sources said they estimated the death toll of the PKK militants in the last two days to be around 100.
The General Staff’s statement after the Dağlıca attack had stated that three F-4 and four F-16 fighter jets had fired at 23 targets of the PKK, while also detailing the targets as six caves, two warehouses, three sheltering spaces and 12 anti-aircraft sites.