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Turkish planes bomb Kurd bases in north Iraq

/ Source: The Associated Press

Turkish warplanes successfully hit all their intended targets in an air strike on the main rebel Kurdish bases inside Iraq on Friday, the military said.

The jets bombed Mount Qandil, an area about 60 miles inside Iraq, where the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK leadership is believed to be hiding.

"The operations that were carried out during the day were successful and all planes have returned safely to their base," the military said.

There was no immediate comment from the rebels and the claims could not be independently verified.

It is the latest of a series of Turkish air strikes against rebel hideouts in northern Iraq, which the rebels use as a launch pad for attacks against targets inside Turkey.

Earlier Friday, the military said it intercepted Kurdish rebel radio chatter indicating that up to 35 guerrillas had been killed in clashes with troops earlier this week in southeastern Sirnak province.

The intercepted conversation indicated that the rebels buried some bodies and took away the rest apparently to disguise their heavy losses, Brig. Gen. Metin Gurak, the military spokesman, said. The rebels were also ordered to kill some of their injured fighters, according to the radio communication.

Gurak said the military, however, was not able to confirm the rebel deaths in the rugged area.

The Turkish military has long accused the rebels of hiding their dead to appear victorious. There was no immediate rebel statement.

The clashes between Turkish troops and the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, have escalated since Kurdish rebels killed 17 soldiers in an Oct. 3 attack on a military unit on the border.

The PKK, branded a terrorist group by the U.S. and the European Union, has been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have been killed.