ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Kurdish separatist guerrillas in northern Iraq said on Monday they had suffered no casualties from Turkish airstrikes and cross-border incursions in December.
The Turkish military said earlier this month its attacks had inflicted heavy casualties on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which uses Iraq’s remote, mountainous north as a base for attacks in Turkey where it seeks an independent homeland.
Senior PKK official Abdul Rahman Chaderchi told Reuters the Turkish attacks had, however, killed five fighters of the anti-Iranian Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the PKK.
An Iraqi Kurdish official said Turkish warplanes had bombed areas in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on Sunday for the second straight day and the third time in December. Turkish troops have also conducted at least two small-scale cross-border raids so far this month.
Chaderchi said the PJAK fighters were killed on December 16, but gave no details.
Ankara says it has the right to use force to combat the PKK, which has been pressing its campaign since 1984. Over 30,000 people have been killed in fighting.
The United States, which lists the PKK as a terrorist group, says it shares common interests with Turkey in stopping PKK activities in Iraq but fears a further escalation in tension could destabilize Iraq’s more stable north.
Reporting by Shamal Aqrawi, writing by Alaa Shahine; editing by Ralph Boulton