Iraq: Turkish warplanes 'resume airstrikes'

Erbil, 30 Jan. (AKI) - Turkish warplanes have resumed aerial attacks on Kurdish rebel hideouts in Khowakork, along the border between northern Iraq, Turkey and Iran, an unnamed source in the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) told Adnkronos International (AKI) on Wednesday.

"The Turkish planes carried out massive bombings late on Tuesday in the strategic Khowakork area which lasted more than one hour, forcing locals to flee towards Erbil," he said.

"The attacks spread terror and anxiety amongst the population," he added.

"The Turkish airstrikes come after a period of relative calm that had lasted for two weeks. Many people had returned to their villages during this time, convinced that the military operations were over, especially as it had snowed," said the anonymous PKK source.

The recent snowfalls had blocked roads to the area pounded by the Turkish warplanes, making it very difficult to reach and assess casualties and damage, the source said.

Turkey's military and northern Iraqi security forces confirmed that airstrikes were carried out on 15 January against Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq.

The mid-January bombings were the fourth air strike against PKK targets in northern Iraq the Turkish military has confirmed since 16 December, in addition to a cross-border ground operation to stop a group of militants seeking to infiltrate Turkey.

At least 150 PKK militants have been killed and more than 200 rebel positions destroyed in the offensive, including command and training bases, ammunition dumps and anti-aircraft posts, according to the army.

Ankara says an estimated 4,000 PKK militants have taken refuge in northern Iraq.

The PKK has waged a bloody campaign for Kurdish self-rule in southeast Turkey since 1984, although its emphasis has now shifted to political and cultural inclusion for Kurds in Turkey. The decades-long conflict has claimed more than 37,000 lives.


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