GeriGündem Turkish army confirms air strikes against PKK camps in N. Iraq
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Turkish army confirms air strikes against PKK camps in N. Iraq

Turkey's General Staff confirmed on Friday its warplanes had bombed outlawed separatist PKK bases in northern Iraq late on Thursday in a "comprehensive and effective" air operation. The White House on Friday endorsed Turkey's air strikes against the PKK targets in N. Iraq. (UPDATED)

The attack against the outlawed separatist PKK bases launched at 11 p.m. (20:00 GMT) on Thursday after the PKK separatists were spotted in the Qandil mountain region, the military said in a statement posted on its website.

"All planes returned to base safely after successfully executing their mission," it added. It did not make any mention of casualties.

The military said the strike had targeted the outlawed separatist PKK, adding it had taken the utmost care not to harm the civilian population.

The raids, which continued after midnight, were targeted at the top leaders of the outlawed PKK in the Qandil area of northern Iraq, Reuters reported.

Military sources also told Reuters at least 30 planes were bombing the area, which they said was far from civilian settlements.

The group's top leadership is believed to be hiding in Mount Qandil, which straddles the Iraq-Iran border and is 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the frontier between Iraq and Turkey.

The White House on Friday endorsed Turkey's air strikes against the PKK targets in northern Iraq, saying they targeted "terrorists" of the PKK.

"These are ongoing operations against the PKK, a terrorist organization. The United States, Iraq and Turkey are all committed to dealing with this problem," U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

Commander of the Turkish Land Forces General Ilker Basbug said on Friday Turkey has achieved serious progress in the fight against terrorism in 2008, the Anatolian Agency reported.

"The terrorist organization is in a state of confusion and turmoil... Just last night (Thursday), we conducted a successful air operation on Mount Qandil where the terrorists were based. The terrorist organization is trying to get re-organized. Our operations against them will go on unabated until desired results are obtained," Basbug said.

Turkish warplanes have targeted terrorist positions in northern Iraq since mid-December. In February, the army conducted a week-long ground offensive against PKK hideouts in the region, where more than 2,000 militants take refuge.

The Turkish government has a one-year parliamentary authorization, which expires in October, for cross-border raids against the PKK. The United States has backed Turkish military action against the outlawed PKK separatists by providing real-time intelligence on PKK movements in Iraq.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, including the EU and the U.S..  

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