DIYARBAKIR/ANKARA: Turkey’s military said on Saturday that warplanes conducted new air strikes against Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq, killing 29 militants.
A brief military statement said the air raids against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, targets were carried out on Thursday and Friday.
Separately, at least 12 rebels were killed as the military clashed with PKK rebels near the town of Uludere, close to Turkey’s border with Iraq on Friday, the military said.
Kurdish militants armed with rocket launchers and assault rifles killed a Turkish army captain in an attack on a military outpost in the southeast late on Friday, the latest in clashes which have brought a peace process to the brink of collapse.
Security sources said Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants attacked the outpost in the southeastern province of Sirnak at around 9:30pm, prompting an hour-long firefight. The captain in charge of the outpost died of his injuries in a military hospital hours later.
Turkey has launched more than 400 air strikes against PKK camps in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey since late July, in what it says is a response to mounting attacks on police officers and soldiers.
Ankara, the United States and European Union all consider the PKK a terrorist organisation.
Kurdish activists accuse Turkey of launching the military campaign in a bid to stifle Kurdish political gains in Turkey and territorial ambitions in northern Syria, where groups allied to the PKK have been battling the self-styled Islamic State. Ankara denies these accusations.
The violence comes at a difficult time for the Nato member, which faces a snap election in November after the ruling AK Party lost its majority in a June parliamentary poll for the first time since coming to power more than a decade ago.
It has also left in tatters a ceasefire agreed two years ago with the PKK as part of efforts to end a conflict in the predominantly Kurdish southeast which has killed some 40,000 people over the past three decades.