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10 PKK fighters killed in suspected Turkish Iraq strikes: authorities

Ten fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were killed in air strikes on northern Iraq suspected to have been launched by Turkey, Iraqi Kurdish authorities said Thursday. Two weeks ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to “intensify” Turkey’s strikes in Syria and Iraq targeting fighters from the Kurdish militant group, which Ankara and its Western allies see as a “terrorist” group. The announcement followed an October 1 suicide attack that injured two policemen in Ankara. The attack was claimed by the PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey. “Nine PKK fighters were killed in a series of air strikes launched by Turkish warplanes and drones” in Arbil province in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, the Kurdish counter-terrorism service said in a statement. A tenth PKK member was killed and three others wounded in “the bombing of several locations” belonging to the group in Dohuk province, it added. The Turkish military rarely comments on its operations in Iraq but it frequently carries out ground and air offensives against the PKK and its positions in northern Iraq. Over the past 25 years, Turkey has installed dozens of military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan to fight against the PKK which also has outposts there. The Iraqi federal government in Baghdad and Kurdish authorities in Arbil have for years been accused of turning a blind eye to the Turkish bombardments to preserve their strategic alliance with Ankara, a key trading partner, despite statements protesting violations of Iraqi sovereignty and harm to civilians. In summer 2022, nine people died when artillery shells hit a recreational park in the Iraqi Kurdish border village of Parakh, with most of those killed holidaymakers from southern Iraq. Baghdad blamed Turkey for the strike but Ankara denied responsibility and pointed the finger at the PKK. In late July, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani’s office announced that Erdogan would visit Iraq but so far, no date has been set.

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