Turkish army says Qandil strike killed 35 PKK members

#TurkeyAtWar

President Erdogan recently warned of potential ground offensive against the PKK in Iraq

The northern Iraq region of Qandil is home to a number of PKK bases
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Last update: 
Sunday 17 June 2018 15:57 UTC
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Turkish warplanes reportedly 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 Recep 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.

Northern Iraq's Qandil mountains are close to the border between Iran and Iraq.

Turkey has also been in talks with Iraq about the potential offensive, but Erdogan said on Saturday that Ankara will wait until a new government is formed in Baghdad following May's election before continuing talks.

An offensive against the PKK in Qandil would mark Turkey's third cross-border operation since 2016, with the first two targeting Kurdish militia fighters in northern Syria. Turkish forces cleared large stretches of land along Turkey's southeastern border as part of its operations into Syria.