Turkish jets hit Kurdish targets in Iraq after soldiers killed
A Turkish Air Force A400M tactical transport aircraft (foreground) is parked at Incirlik airbase in the southern city of Adana.
Diyarbakir/Ankara - Ankara calls for a special Nato meeting on Tuesday to discuss its security concerns.
Published: Tue 28 Jul 2015, 1:35 AM
Last updated: Tue 28 Jul 2015, 8:30 AM
Turkey attacked Kurdish insurgent camps in Iraq for a second night on Sunday, security sources said, in a campaign that could end its peace process with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Ankara, which called for a special Nato meeting on Tuesday to discuss its security concerns, said two of its soldiers were killed and four wounded in the latest attack by PKK militants.
Long a reluctant member of the US-led coalition against Daesh, Turkey made a dramatic turnaround this week by granting the alliance access to its air bases and launching air raids against both the Daesh and the PKK.
But the relapse into serious conflict between Turkey and the PKK has raised doubts about the future of Nato member Turkey's peace process with Kurdish foes that started in 2012, after 28 years of bloodshed, but has recently stalled.
Four Turkish F-16 fighter jets deployed from the Diyarbakir air base in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast hit PKK targets in Hakurk in northern Iraq, the sources told Reuters.
The strike came after a car bomb and roadside explosives hit a passing military vehicle on a highway near Diyarbakir overnight on Sunday, the army said. Kurdish militants then opened fire on the vehicle with rifle fire, it said. Four other soldiers were wounded.
At least six people had been detained in connection with the attack, Dogan news agency reported.
The PKK, which Ankara and Washington deem a terrorist group, has also targeted police officers in the southeast and elsewhere, accusing the central government of covertly helping Daesh to the detriment of Syrian Kurds.
The outlawed PKK has waged an insurgency against Ankara for Kurdish autonomy since 1984. Opposition politicians and critics accuse President Tayyip Erdogan of taking up the campaign against Daesh as political cover to clamp down on Kurds.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who has said the operations will continue as long as Turkey faces a threat, discussed security with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a telephone call overnight.
Nato said ambassadors will meet on Tuesday to discuss security at Turkey's request.
US DENIES CONNECTION
A senior US diplomat condemned recent PKK attacks but denied any link between Turkey's new strikes on Kurdish militants and its newfound boldness in tackling Daesh, which has seized large expanses of neighbouring Syria and Iraq.
"There is no connection between these air strikes against PKK and recent understandings to intensify US-Turkey cooperation against Daesh," Brett McGurk, the deputy special presidential envoy for the coalition to counter Daesh, said on Twitter.
White House spokesman Ben Rhodes, on an official visit to Kenya with President Barack Obama, told a news conference in Nairobi: "The US of course recognises the PKK specifically as a terrorist organisation. And so, again, Turkey has a right to take action related to terrorist targets. And we certainly appreciate their interest in accelerating efforts against Daesh."
Turkey said on Saturday its decision to enter the battle against Daesh, soon after a Daesh suicide bomber killed 32 people, mainly Kurds, in the Turkish town of Suruc, would help create "a safe zone" across the nearby border in northern Syria.
Turkish opposition leaders say they are concerned that Erdogan wants the new attacks on the PKK to whip up anti-Kurdish sentiment before a possible early election later this year.