Turkish bombing of Iraq Kurds ‘means end of truce’

Cockpit image of smart bombs dropping on Iraq. Picture: Anadolu/AP
Cockpit image of smart bombs dropping on Iraq. Picture: Anadolu/AP
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TURKISH jets struck camps belonging to Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, authorities said yesterday, the first strikes since a peace deal was announced in 2013, and again bombed Islamic State positions in Syria.

The strikes in Iraq targeted the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, whose affiliates have been effective in battling the Islamic State group. The strikes further complicate the US-led war against the extremists, which has relied on Kurdish ground forces making gains in Iraq and Syria.

A spokesman in Iraq for the PKK, which has been fighting Turkey for autonomy since 1984 and is considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara and its allies, said the strikes likely spelled the end of the peace process.

“Turkey has basically ended the cease-fire,” Zagros Hiwa said. He said the first wave of strikes launched overnight 
did not appear to cause casualties.

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party, the People’s Democratic Party, said the strikes amounted to an end of the two-year-old truce. It called on the government to end the bombing campaign and resume a dialogue with the Kurds.

Prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced yesterday that he had ordered “a third wave” of raids against IS in Syria and a “second wave” of strikes against the PKK in northern Iraq, but he did not provide details on areas hit. He said the operations would continue.

“Turkey’s operations will, if needed, continue until the terror organisations’ command centres, all locations where they plan (attacks) against Turkey and all depots used to store arms to be used against Turkey are destroyed,” Davutoglu said, as he headed for a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the country’s military chief.

He accused the PKK of not keeping a pledge to withdraw armed fighters from Turkish territory and to disarm.

The government statement earlier said the first strikes targeted seven areas including the Qandil mountains, where the PKK’s command is based. The statement did not detail Islamic State targets but 
described the airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq as being “effective.”

Hiwa said the jets struck villages on Qandil although the PKK base was not hit.

Turkey’s military also shelled Islamic State and PKK positions in Syria from across the Turkish border, the government said. It vowed to press ahead with operations against the PKK and IS, saying it was “determined to take all steps to ensure peace and security for our people.”

Turkish police meanwhile proceeded with a major operation against Islamic State, the PKK and the far-left DHKP-C for a second day. Close to 600 people were detained in raids in 22 provinces, Davutoglu said.

Tensions flared with Kurds after an Islamic State suicide bombing in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc on Monday killed 32 people. Kurdish groups held the Turkish government responsible, saying it had not been aggressive in battling the Islamic State group.

On Wednesday, the PKK claimed responsibility for killing two Turkish police officers near the Kurdish majority city of Sanliurfa, near the Syrian border.

In other attacks, seven police officers were wounded after suspected PKK militants hurled a small bomb at a police station in Bismil, near the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, the Dogan news agency reported. Another small bomb was thrown at officers in Semdinli, near the border with Iraq, the agency said.