Toronto Star

Turkish airstrikes target Kurds, Islamic State

Military action against PKK will complicate U.S.-led action against extremists


ANKARA, TURKEY— Turkish jets struck camps belonging to Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, authoritie­s said Saturday, the first strikes since a peace deal was announced in 2013, and again bombed Islamic State positions in Syria.

The strikes in Iraq targeted the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, whose affiliates have been effective in battling the Islamic State group. The strikes further complicate the U.S.-led war against the extremists, which has relied on Kurdish ground forces making gains in Iraq and Syria.

A spokesman in Iraq for the PKK, which has been fighting Turkey for autonomy since 1984 and is considered a terrorist organizati­on by Ankara and its allies, said the strikes likely spelled the end of the peace process.

“Turkey has basically ended the ceasefire,” Zagros Hiwa told The Associated Press. He said the first wave of strikes launched overnight Saturday didn’t appear to cause casualties.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced a few hours later that he had ordered “a third wave” of raids against the Islamic State in Syria and a “second wave” of strikes against the PKK in northern Iraq, which were ongoing.

“Turkey’s operations will, if needed, continue until the terror organizati­ons’ command centres, all locations where they plan (attacks) against Turkey and all depots used to store arms to be used against Turkey are destroyed,” Davutoglu said.

He accused the PKK of not keeping a pledge to withdraw armed fighters from Turkish territory and to disarm.

The government statement earlier said the first strikes targeted seven areas, including the Qandil moun- tains, where the PKK’s command is based. The statement did not detail Islamic State targets but described the airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq as being “effective.” Hiwa said the jets struck villages on Qandil although the PKK base was not hit.

Turkey’s military also shelled Islamic State and PKK positions in Syria from across the Turkish border, the government said. It vowed to press ahead with operations against the PKK and the Islamic State, saying it was “determined to take all steps to ensure peace and security for our people.”

Meanwhile, Turkish police proceeded with a major operation against the Islamic State, the PKK and the far-left Revolution­ary People’s Liberation Party-Front for a second day. Close to 600 people were detained in raids in 22 provinces, Davutoglu said.

Tensions flared with Kurds after an Islamic State suicide bombing in the southeaste­rn Turkish city of Suruc on Monday killed 32 people. Kurdish groups held the Turkish government responsibl­e, saying it had not been aggressive in battling the Islamic State group.

On Wednesday, the PKK claimed responsibi­lity for killing two Turkish police officers near the Kurdish majority city of Sanliurfa, near the Syrian border.

In other attacks, seven police officers were wounded after suspected PKK militants hurled a small bomb at a police station in Bismil, near the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, the Dogan news agency reported Friday. Another small bomb was thrown at officers in a police vehicle in Semdinli, near the border with Iraq, the agency said.

 ?? JACQUES BRINON/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Kurdish demonstrat­ors in Paris denounce the 32 deaths of a suicide bombing in Suruc, Turkey, earlier in the week.
JACQUES BRINON/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Kurdish demonstrat­ors in Paris denounce the 32 deaths of a suicide bombing in Suruc, Turkey, earlier in the week.

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