Turkish jets strike PKK targets in northern Iraq, southeast Turkey

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkish warplanes struck Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey overnight on Wednesday, and authorities imposed new curfews in rural areas as the army and police continue to battle insurgents, security sources said.

The fighting came a day after Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said operations in the mainly Kurdish southeast had ended, apparently referring to the months-long clashes in some urban centers, and added the government would focus on reconstruction.

The air strikes in Kurdish-run northern Iraq destroyed targets belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), including shelters and weapon stores. The PKK leadership is mainly based in northern Iraq.

Baghdad and Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government frequently object to such air incursions.

The jets also hit sites near the Turkish towns of Lice, northeast of the regional capital of Diyarbakir, and Semdinli, further east near the Iraqi border, sources said.

Some 25 villages near Lice were put under a round-the-clock curfew on Tuesday after authorities determined PKK militants were sheltering and keeping weapons there, the Diyarbakir governor’s office said.

The new curfews show a shift to rural areas away from cities, where much of the fighting since a ceasefire collapsed last July has taken place.

“The operations in the eastern and southeastern regions are finished,” Yildirim told members of the ruling AK Party on Tuesday, apparently referring to fighting in cities like Diyarbakir, Cizre and Nusaybin that has killed thousands of militants and hundreds of soldiers and civilians since July 2015. Swathes of these towns have been destroyed.

The three-decade conflict with the PKK reignited last year after a two-year ceasefire collapsed, and fighting has been at its most intense since the peak of the insurgency in the 1990s.

On Wednesday, new curfews were imposed in villages in Mus and Bingol provinces and near the town of Beytussebap, where three police officers were hurt in a gunfight, security sources said.

Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk