Turkish troops advancing on PKK headquarters

Türkiye Materials 25 February 2008 11:57 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Turkish troops were on Monday advancing on the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) headquarters located in the Qandil Mountains near the Iraqi border with Iran, Turkish newspapers reported.

PKK camps in the regions of Zap and Cemco Valley had been destroyed over the weekend and now commandos backed by F-16 warplanes were targeting the PKK's Qandil base, Hurriyet newspaper reported.

The death toll since Turkey launched its incursion into Iraq on Thursday night stood at 127, according to a statement released Sunday by the Turkish General Staff. The statement said 112 PKK fighters and 15 Turkish soldiers had been killed. The PKK have refused to accept the figures.

"The clashes are continuing in three different regions. Our units' operations in difficult terrain and weather conditions will continue with the same bravery and determination until they reach their planned targets," the Turkish military statement said.

The statement said that a helicopter had "gone down" inside Iraq near the Turkish border but said it was not known why and that specialist technicians had gone to the site.

The PKK had earlier claimed that it had shot down a Cobra attack helicopter in in Sham Gihu, 65 kilometres north-east of the Amadiyah region in Duhuk. PKK spokesman Ahmed Denees told Deutsche Presse- Agentur dpa that the fate of the crew remained unknown as the helicopter was shot down over a rugged mountainous area.

Turkey blames the separatist group for the deaths of more than 32,000 since the early 1980s when the PKK began its fight for independence or autonomy for the mainly Kurdish-populated south-east of Turkey.

The Turkish military estimates that between 4,000 and 5,000 PKK fighters are based in northern Iraq from where they launch attacks on Turkey. Turkey has consistently said that the operations in northern Iraq are solely aimed at rooting out PKK rebels and that Turkish troops will return home as soon as they have achieved their aims.