May 13, 2008 / 11:18 AM / 12 years ago

Turkish planes bomb PKK in N.Iraq: Iraq official

SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - Turkish war planes bombed Kurdish separatist PKK rebels in northern Iraq overnight but there were no casualties, a security spokesman for Iraq’s Kurdistan region said on Monday.

Jabbar Yawar, spokesman for Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga security forces, said the air strikes against suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) positions occurred in a remote part of Dahuk province near the border with Turkey.

In a separate incident, the Iranian military shelled rebels from a different Kurdish faction that operate from Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Sunday, Yawar said. There were also clashes on the Iraq-Iran border between those rebels and Iranian forces but no casualties, he said.

Iranian forces have often clashed in Iraqi border areas with rebels from the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the PKK and which analysts say has bases in northeastern Iraq from where it operates against Iran.

“There were clashes between PJAK and Iranian troops ... but there were no casualties,” Yawar said.

Iraq’s Kurdistan region borders both Turkey and Iran, and includes remote and rugged mountain ranges where Kurdish rebels from both the PKK and PJAK factions are holed up.

Over the past week Turkish war planes have launched a series of raids against suspected PKK hideouts inside northern Iraq.

The strikes are part of a wider military operation, backed by attack helicopters, tanks and artillery, against the PKK in restive southeast Turkey. Turkish troops conducted a large-scale land incursion across Iraq’s northern border in February.

Turkey blames the PKK for the deaths of 40,000 people since 1984, when the group took up arms to fight for a Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey. Ankara, like the European Union and the United States, considers it a terrorist organization.

Reporting by Sherko Raouf; Writing by Tim Cocks, Editing by Giles Elgood

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