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Turkey hits Kurdish positions in Iraq with airstrikes

The Turkish Air Force delivered late Sunday and early Monday massive airstrikes on positions occupied by Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, Turkey's national television said.

Turkey launched last week a large-scale ground operation targeting militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the north of Iraq. More than 10,000 troops have moved 10 kilometers (six miles) into Iraq.

"Combat aircraft of the Turkey's Air Force conducted dozens of sorties in Northern Iraq. The airstrikes mainly targeted the Nerverekan region," the NTV Turkey television said.

In addition, Turkish artillery bombarded a number of targets inside northern Iraq over the weekend and early on Monday, NTV said.

According to official data, 15 Turkish soldiers and 112 Kurdish militants have been killed in the operation so far.

The Turkish parliament gave the government a mandate last October to conduct cross-border operations in northern Iraq against about 3,500 PKK militants based there.

The PKK, listed by the U.S., NATO and the EU as a terrorist organization, has been fighting for autonomy status in southeast Turkey for nearly 25 years. The conflict has so far claimed about 40,000 lives.

Iraq's government urged Turkey on Sunday to withdraw its troops from northern Iraq and resolve the conflict with Kurds through peaceful negotiations. Baghdad considers the Turkish ground operation "a violation of Iraq's sovereignty."

However, Turkish authorities have consistently refused to open a dialogue with the separatists.

RIA Novosti

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