Turkish warplanes hit 16 Kurdish targets in Iraq

September 26, 2008 9:17:08 AM PDT
Turkish warplanes successfully attacked 16 Kurdish rebel targets in a cross-border raid in northern Iraq, a military spokesman said Friday. The strikes late Thursday targeted rebel positions on Qandil mountain, Brig. Gen. Metin Gurak told reporters. The mountain on the Iranian-Iraqi border is where the rebel group's leaders are believed to be based.

He said the warplanes took care to spare civilians from harm, but in northern Iraq, spokesman Ahmed Deniz of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, said the air raid had damaged a school and wounded three people.

The attack began at 10 p.m. Thursday and lasted two hours, Deniz said, bombing areas including the villages of Kutak, Surage and Kozala. One rebel and two civilians were wounded, he said.

"There were severe bombardments on PKK sites. I saw the PKK firing on warplanes with their weapons," Ahmed Khalil, a resident from Qandil, told an AP television news crew in Iraq.

Kurdish rebels in Turkey took up arms against the government in 1984 to fight for self-rule in parts of the country's southeast and east. Tens of thousands have been killed in the fighting.

Last year, the Turkish parliament authorized the military to send troops into northern Iraq to root out Kurdish rebels there.

Since then, Turkish warplanes have carried out several air strikes against suspected rebel bases in northern Iraq.

"The north of Iraq is no longer a safe haven" for the rebel group, Gurak said.

He did not give any casualty figures for the latest bombing raid.

In recent fighting inside Turkey, six Kurdish rebels and one soldier were killed in separate clashes Thursday, Gurak said.