(Todayszaman) - The military said it thwarted an attack by a large group of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists yesterday on an army outpost at the Iraqi border and killed more than 30 in the group.
The General Staff said in a statement that more than 30 terrorists were "rendered ineffective" in the clashes, which it said took place on Tuesday. The report increased the number of PKK members killed since Sunday, when a deadly attack on a military unit left 12 soldiers dead, to at least 64, according to military figures.
The statement said a "large group of terrorists" had been spotted near a military outpost in the district of Semdinli close to the border with Iraq and fired on them with tanks, artillery units and other heavy weaponry. In a statement posted on its Web site, the military said the troops kept firing as they advanced toward Iraqi territory. "The terrorist group was pursued by [arms] fire as it fled into Iraqi territory. Intelligence gathered from regional and other sources revealed that more than 30 terrorists were rendered ineffective," it said.
Search operations in the region are continuing, it also added. The statement came amid reports that the Turkish warplanes and ground troops have attacked PKK targets inside northern Iraq in "hot pursuit" operations following Sunday's deadly attack by the PKK. The planes and troops involved in the attack returned, and more such operations are expected to take place in the coming days, but there has been no large-scale operation as of yet.
Preparations for a possible large-scale offensive are at an advanced stage. More troops and military equipment have been sent to the border area, and some additional 11 battalions have been deployed at strategic locations on Gabar, Cudi, Kato, Kupeli and Namaz mountains near the border to prevent future infiltration by the PKK terrorists.
Military operations were continuing against the PKK in S?rnak province and on the border with Iraq, reported the Anatolia news agency yesterday. It said troops backed by government-paid village guards were sweeping the Incebel, Kupeli, Gabar and Kato mountains with air support as F-16 fighter jets from the Diyarbak?r air base flew sorties along the Iraqi border. The search operations resulted in "PKK bunkers containing weapons and provisions being destroyed," the Anatolia news agency reported. Units supported by armored vehicles are constantly sweeping military and public roads for mines as more men and material are deployed to the region.
Turkey, which has NATO's second biggest army, has deployed up to 100,000 troops, backed by tanks, artillery, fighter jets and helicopter gunships along the mountainous border in the event it decides on a large-scale strike. The state-run Anatolia news agency said Turkish warplanes and helicopters had bombed PKK positions in southeast Turkey on Wednesday.
Turkish warplanes were also reported to have attacked a village in northern Iraq on Wednesday. A Kurdish village in mountainous country near Shiranish Islam, 25 kilometers northeast of the northern town of Dahuk, had been heavily bombed at midday, Reuters reported, citing an Iraqi Kurdish official. There was no more detail about the reported bombardment. The PKK has mountain camps in northern Iraq and Turkey accuses Iraqi Kurds of turning a blind eye to the PKK presence in their region, even supporting it.