In Bloodiest Day in Years, Turkey Pounds Kurdish Forces Near Iraq Border

Turkey renewed air strikes in Syria over the weekend, extending operations along the border-region corridor it is clearing of ISIS jihadists and Kurdish militias.

A member of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces stands guard as smoke rises after an attack at Bai Hassan oil station, northwest of Kirkuk, Iraq, July 31, 2016.
Ako Rasheed, Reuters

REUTERS - Turkish warplanes hit 10 Kurdish militant targets in Turkey's southeast and east overnight, near the border with Iraq, the state-run Anadolu Agency said on Sunday, citing security sources. 

The air strikes capped one of the most violent single days of fighting in the largely Kurdish southeast in recent years. The military has said that more than 100 militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were either killed or injured in clashes on Saturday. 

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Turkey renewed air strikes on ISIS sites in Syria on Friday, extending operations along a 90-km (56-mile) corridor near the Turkish border which Ankara says it is clearing of jihadists and protecting from Kurdish militia expansion.

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Turkish army tanks and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters make their way in the Syrian border town of Jarablus as it is pictured from the Turkish town of Karkamis, Turkey, August 24, 2016.
Reuters

Turkey's southeast has been rocked by waves of violence following the collapse last year of a 2-1/2-year ceasefire between the state and the autonomy-seeking PKK.

Overnight Saturday, fighter jets pounded four PKK targets in the Cukurca district of the southeastern Hakkari province on Saturday evening, Anadolu said, citing the security sources. 

Six more positions were bombed in the region between the eastern Agri and Van provinces shortly after midnight, it said. 

Meanwhile, in Syria, Turkey and allied Syrian rebels have also fought U.S.-backed Kurdish forces known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, around Jarablus. Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which Turkey and its allies consider a terrorist organization.

The U.S. has provided extensive aid and airstrikes to the YPG-led Syria Democratic Forces, which have proven to be highly effective against ISIS. The Syria Democratic Forces, which also includes Arab fighters, has taking a large swath of territory from the extremists along the border with Turkey and closed in on Raqqa, the de facto capital of the extremist group's self-styled caliphate.

The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. More than 40,000 people, most of them Kurds, have died since it started its insurgency more than three decades ago. 

Map showing Turkey's second incursion into Syria in al-Rai.