Turkey launches new cross-border operation in northern Iraq
Ankara, April 18 (IANS) Turkey said on Monday it has launched a new air and ground cross-border operation against its outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
Turkish air forces first hit the PKK's shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots, and headquarters in the Metina, Zap and Avasin-Basyan regions in northern Iraq, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a video statement, Xinhua news agency reported.
While artillery units struck the targets, commando troops and special forces, supported by helicopters and drones, entered the region by land, Akar said.
"So far, our operation continues successfully as planned. The targets set in the first phase were achieved," he said.
In a separate statement, the Turkish Defence Ministry said the "Operation Claw-Lock" was launched after the security forces determined that the PKK was planning to initiate a large-scale attack.
The operation is in line with Turkey's self-defence rights arising from Article 51 of the UN Charter, the ministry said.
Turkey regularly conducts cross-border operations on PKK bases in northern Iraq. Iraq has condemned previous airstrikes by Turkish aircraft in its northern region, stressing its rejection to the violation of sovereignty.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, has been fighting against the Turkish government for over 30 years.