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Turkey Says It Struck 500 Kurdish Militant Targets In Northern Iraq

Turkish troops in action against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, June 17, 2020

Turkey's Defense Ministry says the country's military has struck more than 500 Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq during an operation in the region against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The "Claw-Tiger Operation" was launched on June 16 in response to an uptick in Kurdish militant attacks on Turkish army bases, the ministry said in a statement on June 18.

Two separate air raids targeted PKK locations in various regions of northern Iraq on June 14 and June 16, the statement said, adding that Turkish F-16 jets, drones, and howitzers had hit and destroyed more than 500 PKK targets in 36 hours.

"The Claw-Tiger Operation is going very well. God willing, by continuing with the same seriousness and determination, we will conclude the operation with success," the statement cited Defense Minister Hulusi Akar as saying.

The PKK -- which is designated by Turkey, the United States, and European Union as a terrorist organization -- has conducted a nearly four-decade armed campaign against the Turkish state demanding greater Kurdish rights. Some 40,000 have been killed.

It has armed and political wings in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria as well as hundreds of thousands of supporters in the Kurdish diaspora in Europe.

Iran has also admitted it hit Kurdish militant targets across the border in Iraq, in what appears to be coordination with Turkish forces. Rudaw, a Kurdish media outlet in Iraq, reported on June 16 that Iranian artillery hit Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq near the Haji Omran border crossing in what may have been a rare coordinated move with Turkey.

The United Arab Emirates on June 17 condemned Turkey and Iran for their military "intervention" violating Iraqi sovereignty.

Turkey regularly carries out military operations against the PKK in southeast Anatolia and has launched dozens of cross-border operations against the PKK in Iraq over the years, often during the summer fighting season.

The Turkish military has also carried out three operations against Syrian Kurdish forces controlling swaths of northern Syria that Ankara says are controlled by the PKK.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP