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Turkey launches military operation in Iraq

Ankara has begun a major cross-border military offensive, targeting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the northern part of Iraq, according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry. 

The operation involves an extensive airstrike campaign using jets, helicopters and drones, as well as a ground incursion by commando troops, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced in a video address on Monday morning.

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Ankara claims it successfully destroyed multiple bunkers, tunnels and ammunition depots, as well as military headquarters of the PKK in northern Iraq’s border areas of Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan, before its ground forces moved into the neighboring state. It is unclear how many troops and military hardware are involved in the operation.

“Our operation is continuing successfully, as planned. The targets that were set for the first phase have been achieved,” Akar said, as cited by AP.

Turkish forces are only targeting “terrorists,” taking extra precautions to avoid the loss of civilian lives and damage to cultural heritage, the minister claimed.

“Our struggle will continue until the last terrorist is neutralized,” he said. “We are determined to save our noble nation from the terror misfortune that has plagued our country for 40 years.”

READ MORE: The Kurdish project in Syria would be a new Israel in the Middle East

The PKK is a Kurdish militant political organization and armed guerrilla movement, who fight for an independent Kurdistan, have been battling Ankara since 1984, in a war that has claimed more than 40,000 lives. Over the years, Turkey has conducted multiple military operations against the PKK, which is based in northern Iraq and has used the territory to fuel insurgency in the eastern part of Turkey. 

The PKK has also been designated a terrorist group by the US, UK, and EU. However, the Kurds were an important ally to the West and the US in the fight against Islamic State terrorists both in Syria and Iraq. Washington maintains a military foothold in Syrian Kurdish-controlled regions, while the Iraqi Kurdistan region hosts several American military installations and a US consulate in Erbil.

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