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Turkey again bombs Kurdish rebels in Iraq

Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq on Saturday in the third confirmed cross-border offensive by Turkish forces in less than a week, the military said.
Image: Turkish soldiers
Turkish soldiers patrol a road near Yuksekova in southeastern Turkey, bordering Iraq, on Saturday.Osman Orsal / Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

Turkish fighter jets bombed Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq Sunday, private NTV television reported, citing local officials in Iraq.

The report could not immediately be confirmed with Turkish authorities. Turkey staged its third cross-border operation in less than a week against the rebels in neighboring Iraq on Saturday.

The media report said Turkish warplanes bombed sites in northern Iraq for about an hour Sunday afternoon. The report did not say how many planes were involved or where in Iraq the operation took place.

Rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, have fought for autonomy in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast since 1984. The group is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

After a surge in attacks by the rebels, some of whom are based in northern Iraq, Turkey said it would tolerate no more PKK attacks. The Parliament voted to allow the military to strike rebel hideouts and camps across the Iraqi border.

The U.S. and Iraq have asked Turkey to show restraint in its response to the guerrillas, fearing that a large Turkish incursion could destabilize what has been Iraq's most stable area.

In a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Nov. 5 , U.S. President George W. Bush declared the PKK a "common enemy," and promised to share intelligence on the rebel group.

The first confirmed air assault by Turkish forces in Iraq came on Dec. 16, when up to 50 Turkish warplanes entered Iraqi air space and bombed suspected PKK targets.

The military said Saturday that "hundreds" of Kurdish guerrillas had been killed in that operation and in an incursion into Iraq by Turkish land forces two days later.

On Saturday, Turkish jets bombed rebel targets inside Iraq for half an hour, following up by shelling the area from inside Turkish border. It was the third confirmed cross-border operation in less than a week by the Turkish forces.