Turkish warplanes have bombed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets near the country’s border with Iraq. The strikes highlight rising tensions in Turkey over Ankara’s perceived unwillingness to aid besieged Kurdish fighters in the Syrian town of Kobani.
The Turkish General Staff dispatched F-16 and F-4 jets to the southeastern village of Daglica in Hakkari province on Monday, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reports.
The daily says the airstrikes caused “heavy damage” to the PKK.
The PKK’s military wing, however, said in a statement on its website that its forces had not suffered casualties during the strikes, Reuters reports.
Turkey says the bombings came in response to three days of attacks on the Daglıca military guard post with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns. PKK insurgents for their part blamed the Turkish military of violating the ceasefire.
Monday’s strikes were the first to be conducted since the Kurdish rebel group declared a ceasefire with Turkey in March 2013.
The incident underlines simmering anger among Kurds in southeastern Turkey over Ankara’s failure to intervene against so-called Islamic State (IS) militants, who launched a massive offensive on the predominately Kurdish town of Kobani – not far from Syria’s border with Turkey – on September 16.
At least 35 people were killed throughout Turkey’s Kurdish majority south-eastern provinces last week after protests against Ankara’s inaction descended into violent street clashes.
Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of PKK, has threatened to call off peace talks to end nearly three decades of insurgency if Ankara does not act by Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a “symbolic” amount of military supplies sent from Iraqi Kurdistan to Syrian Kurds is stuck in Syria’s northeast after Turkey refused to open an aid corridor, German daily Deutsche Welle cites Syrian Kurdish official Alan Othman as saying on Tuesday.
“It is a symbolic shipment that has remained in the Jazeera canton,” Othman said, using the Kurdish name for northeastern Syria.
On Monday, Turkish officials denied a previous announcement by the Obama administration that Ankara had authorized US fighter jets to use the Incirlik Airbase as a launching point to conduct bombing campaigns against IS (Islamic State) militants.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that any military operations conducted from its territory should be done with an aim of removing Syrian president Bashar Assad from power.
Earlier this month, Erdogan said that IS and the PKK are equally worthy of contempt in the eyes of Turkey.
“It is wrong to consider them [IS and PKK] in different ways,” Erdogan said. “We need to handle them all together on a common ground.”