Huffpost Politics

Iraqi Official Reports Turk Air Attack

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ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey launched airstrikes on Kurdish separatist rebels in northern Iraq less than a week after the end of a large-scale ground operation, an Iraqi official said Wednesday.

Turkey's military did not confirm or deny the report. If confirmed, they would be the first air attacks since the military ended its eight-day ground incursion Friday.

Saleh Ali, a captain in the Iraqi border guards, told The Associated Press that Turkish aircraft bombarded Dashti Barzji, an uninhabited area in Irbil province about 15 miles from the border. He said there were no reports of casualties or damage.

The private Turkish station NTV cited unnamed Iraqi Kurdish officials as saying Turkish helicopters had attacked in the region of Sidekan, 30 miles south of the border.

On Friday the Turkish military ended a ground incursion against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, who have been accused of using havens in northern Iraq to launch guerrilla attacks against Turkish targets. U.S. officials pressured Turkey to quickly wrap up the operation.

The decision to end the incursion prompted criticism in Turkey, where the opposition accused the government of bowing to pressure from Washington to end the campaign prematurely.

Senior Turkish military officials have said the ground incursion was a success and Turkey political and military leadership has strongly denied any U.S. influence on the decision to withdraw troops from Iraq.

The PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 and has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey's southeast. The conflict has killed up to 40,000 people.


Associated Press writer Yahya Barzanji in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq, contributed to this report.