Turkey launches air strikes against PKK in Iraq, Turkey: army

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkey’s military carried out air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq and killed 26 militants in southeast Turkey, where violence has flared since a ceasefire broke down last July, the armed forces said on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s air strikes hit shelters, caves and ammunition depots used by the PKK in northern Iraq and rural areas near the southeastern Turkish town of Semdinli, at the mountainous border with Iraq and Iran, the military statement said.

The military says more than a thousand militants have been killed in the largely Kurdish southeast since the 2-1/2 year PKK ceasefire collapsed in July, prompting the heaviest clashes in the region since the 1990s.

President Tayyip Erdogan has said more than 300 members of the security forces have died, while the pro-Kurdish opposition says hundreds of civilians have also been killed.

The army said it killed 26 PKK fighters in the southeastern towns of Nusaybin, Sirnak and Yuksekova on Tuesday alone. It also destroyed explosives and seized weapons and ammunition.

On Tuesday, the PKK killed five members of Turkish security forces in three separate bomb attacks near the Syrian and Iranian borders, army and security sources said. [L5N16U4D3]

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict since it began in 1984. The PKK, which says it is fighting for Kurdish autonomy, is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk/Nick Tattersall