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Turkish warplanes ‘destroy 18 Kurdish militant targets in Iraq’

Turkey’s joint cross-border operation with Iraq is likely to start after Baghdad holds elections in May. (Reuters)
ISTANBUL: Turkish warplanes destroyed at least 18 targets belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq over the weekend, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Sunday.
The strikes, carried out on Saturday and Sunday, targeted the Hakurk, Zap, Metina, Gara and Avasin-Basyan regions of northern Iraq, Anadolu said, citing the Turkish military.
Turkey regularly carries out airstrikes against PKK targets in northern Iraq, where the group is based in the Qandil mountains.
The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by the US, the EU and Turkey, has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast that has killed some 40,000 people.
Turkey in January launched a separate military operation in northern Syria’s Afrin region to sweep Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters from its southern border. Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the PKK.
US support for the YPG in the fight against Daesh in Syria has strained ties between Ankara and Washington, both members of the NATO military alliance.
On Thursday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as saying that Turkey and Iraq’s central government in Baghdad will carry out a joint operation against Kurdish militants in Iraq.
Cavusoglu was quoted as saying the joint cross-border operation with Iraq may start after Iraq holds parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2018, signaling Turkish troops may move to northern Iraq following the ongoing offensive.

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