( Reuters ) - Three members of Turkey's security forces were killed and a number of others injured on Monday in a clash with Kurdish PKK rebels in mountains near the Iraqi border, security officials said.
The clash occurred in Sirnak province where security forces have been battling members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for about a week as part of an annual spring military crackdown on the guerrillas as the winter snows melt.
The clashes are continuing and more troops have been sent to the area, the officials said, adding that F-16 warplanes have also been deployed against the rebels.
Turkey blames the PKK for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since the group launched its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984. The United States and European Union, like Turkey, brand the PKK a terrorist group.
Last month, the Turkish military, helped by intelligence provided by Washington, its NATO ally, staged a major, week-long ground campaign into nearby northern Iraq to crush rebels using that region as a base for attacks on targets inside Turkey.
The military General Staff says 240 rebels were killed in that operation, along with 27 of its own men.
The General Staff said its forces killed at least 15 PKK members in northern Iraq last week using long-range land weapons and air strikes, the first such casualties reported inside Iraq since the land campaign ended.