ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish warplanes pounded several positions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the Turkish military announced on Wednesday.
Jets destroyed 16 different positions of the Kurdish rebel group, killing six fighters, according to a statement, which added that air operations struck PKK targets in the districts of "Khwakurk, Gara, Metin, Zap, Qandil, and Avashin."
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by several states and organizations, including NATO, the US, the UK, and the European Union. However, the United Nations and other major powers have not designated the organization as such.
The group took up arms in the 1980s to demand rights for Kurdish citizens in a conflict that has since claimed some 40,000 lives on both sides. Violence has escalated since the collapse of a peace process between the two in the summer of 2015.
In recent months, Turkish forces have stepped up military actions against PKK fighters within the Kurdistan Region, including building outposts and military access roads. They have crossed into the region up to 20 kilometers deep in some areas to target the Kurdish guerilla fighters, and bombardment from Turkish jets occasionally result in the death of civilians unaffiliated to the PKK.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials, including Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, have repeatedly asked the PKK to leave the area as well as asking Turkey to stop bombing within its borders.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a leading party in the Kurdistan Region, expressed his party’s surprise at recent remarks of Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu which accused the PUK of aiding the PKK.
"The PUK does not want the blood of any side to be shed, be it Kurdish or Turkish blood," the spokesperson said. “Therefore, it is important for Turkey to closely review its position, as it would guarantee a sustained peace."
Editing by John J. Catherine