49 Kurdish rebels killed in fighting: Turkey

Turkish troops have killed at least 49 Kurdish rebels in a valley near the Iraqi border.

Ankara: Turkish troops have killed at least
49 Kurdish rebels in a valley near the Iraqi border, the
military said on Saturday, as hundreds of troops also pursued
Kurdish fighters within northern Iraq.

The rebels were killed in offensives in the past two days
in the Kazan Valley region, near the town of Cukurca that
borders Iraq, the military said in a statement posted on its
website. There was no confirmation of the deaths from the
rebel group.

On Wednesday, Turkey launched anti-rebel offensives
involving around 10,000 troops both in southeastern Turkey and
across the border in Iraq.

The military operations began hours after 24 soldiers
were killed in Cukurca by the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers`
Party, or PKK, in the deadliest one-day toll against the
military since the 1990s.

Turkey`s conflict with the Kurdish rebels has killed tens
of thousands of people since the insurgents took up arms to
fight for autonomy in the country`s Kurdish-dominated
southeast in 1984.

The military said it recovered the bodies of 35 rebels at
the valley after it struck the area with artillery shells and
airstrikes on Saturday. Seven other bodies were found inside a
cave while seven more rebels were killed in separate clashes
in the region.

"Operations launched in a few regions across the border
and in two regions inside Turkey are continuing," the military
statement said, adding they were aimed at "preventing acts by
members of the separatist terror organization against our

On Friday, the military said air and ground offensives
were mostly concentrated within Turkey, in Cukurca, while
operations were also under way "in a few areas" in northern

The military has not revealed the number of soldiers that
have crossed into Iraq. But the Haber Turk newspaper reported
Saturday that 1,500 elite troops were involved in the ground
operation against rebel hideouts in northern Iraq. The Vatan
newspaper put the figure at 2,000.

The Turkish troops had penetrated three miles (five
kilometers) into Iraqi territory, Haber Turk said, while
military helicopters were ferrying elite troops in and out of
other areas for "spot operations" against PKK rebels.
Warplanes and drones were providing air support for the

The paper said the offensive was targeting seven
suspected PKK bases along the border, where about 2,000 rebels
are believed to be hiding.

The military said the operation includes commandos,
special forces and paramilitary special forces — elite
forces trained in guerrilla warfare. They are being reinforced
by F-16 and F-4 warplanes, Super Cobra helicopter gunships and
surveillance drones.

The Kurdish rebels meanwhile, said seven of their
fighters, including three senior operatives, were killed in
Turkish air raids in northern Iraq on Oct. 10 and vowed

Turkey has launched more than two dozen air and ground
incursions into northern Iraq over the 27 years of the
insurgency, with mixed results. The rebels have returned to
positions along the border soon after the troops have

The current offensive was the largest attack on the
insurgents in more than three years.

Turkey is seeking the cooperation of Iraqi Kurds, who
control an autonomous region in northern Iraq, and of Iran for
the latest offensive.

Hurriyet newspaper reported Saturday that Iraqi Kurdish
security forces, the Peshmerga, were helping Turkish troops by
providing intelligence.

Iraqi leaders have condemned the rebel attacks and
promised to stop the PKK from using Iraqi territory for future
attacks against Turkey.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said both Baghdad and the
regional Kurdish government in northern Iraq "are committed to
securing the borders."

On Friday, Turkey and Iran vowed to collaborate against
the PKK and its Iranian wing, the Party of Free Life of
Kurdistan, or PJAK, during a visit by Iranian Foreign Minister
Ali Akbar Salehi. The PKK and PJAK have both been fighting for
Kurdish autonomy in their respective countries and both are
labeled as terrorist organizations by the United States.


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