By Amechi Idumuebor (AGENDAWATCHDOG) – Turkey said Wednesday it has airlifted troops for a cross-border ground operation against Turkey’s Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, the first known airborne-and-land offensive by Ankara inside Iraqi territory.
The offensive into the border region of Haftanin, some 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the Turkey-Iraq border, was launched following intense artillery fire into the area, said the Defense Ministry in Ankara. The operation by commando forces is being supported by warplanes, attack helicopters, artillery and armed and unarmed drones, according to the ministry’s statement posted on Twitter. It did not say how many troops are involved.
Turkey regularly carries out air and ground attacks against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which it says maintains bases in northern Iraq. Wednesday’s was the first known airborne and land offensive.
Defending its past operations into northern Iraq, Turkey says that neither the Iraqi government nor the regional Iraqi Kurdish administration have acted to remove PKK insurgents who allegedly use Iraq’s territory to stage attacks on Turkey.