Turkey Says Its Air Strikes Kill 35 Kurdish Militants in Northern Iraq

According to the Turkish government, troops are also advancing towards the Qandil mountains

A Turkish boy waves to Turkish tank convoy driving into Syria from the Turkish Syrian border city of Karkamis in the southern region of Gaziantep, on August 26, 2016
BULENT KILIC/AFP

Turkish warplanes killed 35 militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in air strikes in northern Iraq's Qandil mountain region on Friday, the Turkish military said.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan had said on Saturday that Turkish warplanes had struck a meeting of the outlawed PKK in Qandil, where he believed high-profile militants had been hit.

The Turkish military in its statement on Sunday, released via Twitter, did not specify whether the air strikes it referred to were the ones Erdogan had talked about on Saturday.

The Turkish military has ramped up air strikes in northern Iraq, targeting PKK bases in Qandil, close to the Iraq-Iran border, where Ankara suspects high-ranking members of the militant group are located.

The PKK, which has fought a decades-old insurgency against the state in southeastern Turkey, is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

Ankara has also recently stepped up its warnings of a potential ground offensive into the Qandil region, with Erdogan vowing to "drain the terror swamp" in Qandil.

According to the Turkish government, troops are also advancing towards the Qandil mountains.

The conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK goes back several decades and has killed at least 40,000 people. Fighting was reignited in July 2015 when a ceasefire broke down after more than two years. Since then, Turkey has once again been targeting the PKK in the south-east of the country and attacking the organization's positions in northern Iraq.

The PKK has also carried out repeated attacks, especially on security forces. The group is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.