According to the Turkish military statement, about 175 PKK rebels were killed on December 16 alone. It is reported that there were more cross-border raids carried out by Turkey on Tuesday. The Iraqi government has not given any details on the number of casualties.
Turkey blames the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for attacking the country from their bases in Northern Iraq. In addition, the Turkish military said that they killed five PKK rebels including two women. This was an operation carried within Turkey.
The government had approved the cross-border raids into Northern Iraq back October. While both the United States and Iraq told Turkey to use restraint on the issue, the Turkish government had accused them of not doing enough. Turkey had also accused the European Union of not doing enough as well.
December 16 was the first cross-border raid into Kurdish occupied Northern Iraq. It was followed by a ground force incursion.
Turkey launched another offensive on December 22. Warplanes bombed the suspected PKK targets.
Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s Kurdish region condemned the attacks. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Prime Minister defended the attacks on Tuesday.
“No matter who says what, we are using and continue to use air and land operations within the framework of authority granted by international law,” said Erdogan at his Justice and Development (AK) party meeting.
The United States is backing Turkish operations to combat the PKK. They have agreed to share their intelligence with Turkey.
While the PKK has been fighting for a sovereign Kurdish state separate from Turkey for decades, the group is deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, and Turkey.