Turkey has killed 260 Kurdish militants in a week-long air offensive on targets in northern Iraq, official media claimed Saturday, as regional Iraqi authorities said it was time the rebels pulled out with concerns growing over civilian casualties.
Ankara has launched a two-pronged “anti-terror” offensive against Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists in Syria and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants based in northern Iraq after a wave of attacks inside Turkey.
But so far the bombardments have focused far more on the Kurdish rebels and a report by the official Anatolia news agency of 260 alleged PKK militants killed was the first concrete indication of the scale of the casualties.
The Turkish strikes against Kurdish forces come as critics say Ankara is using backlash against a massive ISIS suicide bombing late last month to crack down on the Kurds, in a move that comes after Western officials revealed Turkey has been cooperating with ISIS.
Turkish F-16 jets carried out more air strikes Saturday morning, NTV television said.
On Friday, 28 Turkish F-16s destroyed 65 targets of the PKK including shelters and arms depots, following the heaviest air strikes the day before when 80 Turkish aircraft hit 100 PKK targets, Anatolia said.
“For the peace and security of our people, the fight against terror organizations will continue without interruption,” the office of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a statement.
The PKK’s insurgency for greater rights and powers for Turkey’s Kurdish minority, begun more than 30 years ago, has left tens of thousands dead. A ceasefire declared in 2013 has been shattered by the current violence.
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