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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkey Pounds Kurd Positions As Border Conflict Heats Up




ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkish jets pounded more Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq at dawn Monday, the eighth day of the offensive, Turkey's official Anatolia agency reported.


The air strikes by F-4 and F-16 jet fighters targeted five locations in the region, the dispatch said.


Some 16,000 Turkish troops are involved in the crackdown on rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.


An Iraqi opposition group said Monday that, alarmed by the Turkish incursion, Baghdad, Syria and Iran had reinforced troops along their borders with the Kurdish areas.


"Syria has sent one armored division to the area where the Turkish, Iraqi and Syrian borders meet,'' a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress said by telephone from London.


Iran had sent additional Revolutionary Guard units to its border with Iraq, the official said, while Baghdad had moved an armored brigade to Mosul, south of the Kurdish-controlled areas, and a division further north, close to the border. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.


The rebels meanwhile stepped up offensives inside Turkey, killing six village guards, recruited by the state to fight the rebels, in two separate attacks in the country's southeast provinces. A woman was also killed in one of the raids, Anatolia said.


Since 1984, the PKK's war for autonomy within Turkey has claimed 28,000 lives.


Iraqi Kurds established a de facto state in northern Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and the Turkish Kurdish rebels took advantage of the power vacuum to set up bases there.


Anatolia said the guerrillas were fleeing toward the Iranian border or further south where a rival Iraqi Kurdish group maintains control.


Turkish troops have been aided by the Iraqi Kurdish opposition group, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which has control over the region close to the Turkish border.


The KDP claimed Monday that it snatched control of the strategic mountain of Metina, close to the Turkish border, from the rebels.


"The rebels put artillery on the mountain and used it to shell KDP positions,'' said Faik Nerweyi a KDP spokesman in Ankara.


Turkish troops have reportedly killed 138 rebels so far. At least six soldiers also died in the offensive.


Turkish incursions into Iraqi territory have become common in the last two years. Military officials have claimed success each time, but it has been only a matter of time before the rebels have managed to return to the bases and a new offensive has been launched.Ankara