Turkey Continues Operations Against Kurdish Rebels

RIA Novosti Photo
ANKARA (RIA Novosti) — Turkey’s military will continue cross-border attacks against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq with no clear date for the cessation of operations, the country’s prime minister said on Monday.

"Operations can be conducted at any moment, based on intelligence reports and depending on actions by the terrorist organization [Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK] in the region," Turkey’s NTV television channel quoted Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying.

He said the government might seek an extension of its parliamentary mandate to launch attacks against Kurdish targets in northern Iraq when the current authorization expires in October.

The prime minister said he was unable to predict with any certainty when Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish insurgents in north Iraq might end.

"We hope our fight against terrorism will end quickly, but I can’t say when it will," Erdogan said. "If it doesn’t end, we will ask parliament for authorization to be able to continue it."

Turkish artillery shelled Kurdish militant bases in northern Iraq on Friday.

Kurdish sources denied however on the same day reports that planes had bombed a number of areas in northern Iraq, but confirmed that Turkish warplanes had patrolled border areas.

In mid-October, Turkey’s parliament sanctioned cross-border military operations against PKK separatists following an earlier government request and despite opposition from Washington and Baghdad.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry had previously confirmed it had carried out several "limited operations" against the outlawed PKK in December.

The PKK, labeled by the U.S., NATO and the EU as a terrorist organization, has been fighting for autonomy status in southeast Turkey for nearly 25 years. The conflict has so far claimed about 40,000 lives.