ARBIL, Iraq (AFP) — Turkish warplanes bombed northern Iraq on Monday, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and an Iraqi Kurdish official said, as Ankara stepped up its attack on the region’s Kurds.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the air raids, which began at midday and targeted the Sidakan district of Arbil province in the mountainous northeast of Iraq.
“So far they have resulted in fires breaking out in forests and fields in the mountains,” Sidakan district commissioner Ahmed Qadr told AFP.
PKK spokesman Ahmed Denis said: “The bombing targeted Kurdish nomads in the border area. We don’t yet know the extent of the damage or casualties.”
Turkey has launched repeated air raids and two ground incursions against suspected PKK rear-bases in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq in recent weeks.
They came as the Turkish army suffered its deadliest 48 hours in two years in its battle with the PKK.
On June 19-20, Kurdish freedom fighters killed 12 Turkish soldiers in multiple attacks inside Turkey prompting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to pledge to fight the PKK “to the end”.
Three more soldiers were killed in further attacks on June 21 and 24.
And on June 22, a PKK splinter group bombed a Turkish military bus in Istanbul, killing five soldiers.
Blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, the PKK took up arms for Kurdish liberation in southeastern Turkey in 1984 in response to decades of state-sponsored oppression.