Turkey launches new air strikes in northern Iraq as Iraqi defense minister visits Ankara

Turkish air forces once again destroyed 58 targets of the outlawed PKK in northern Iraq following the Ankara bombing while Iraqi Defence Minister Thabet al-Abbasi arrived in Ankara to meet his Turkish counterpart. Turkish officials stated that a ground operation in Syria was also possible.


Turkish air forces destroyed 58 targets of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq since the Kurdish militant group claimed responsibility for a bomb attack near government buildings in Ankara on Oct. 1.

The third operation after Sunday's bombing was conducted in the Metina, Hakurk, Gara, Qandil and Asos regions of northern Iraq at 7 p.m. (16.00 GMT) on Oct. 4 and many PKK militants were "neutralized", a term mostly used to mean killed, Turkey's defense ministry said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said on Oct. 4 all facilities belonging to the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Iraq and Syria are "legitimate targets." He also noted that the recent attackers came from Syrian territory.

Iraqi Defense Minister Thabet al-Abbasi arrived in Ankara on Oct. 4, Iraqi state news agency (INA) said, and Turkish media said he would meet his Turkish counterpart, Yaşar Güler.

Iraq denounced the Turkish air strikes and Iraqi President Abdul-Latif Rashid said he hoped to come to an agreement with Ankara to try to solve the problem.

Turkey regards the PKK as a terrorist group and regularly carries out air strikes in northern Iraq, which has long been outside the direct control of the Baghdad government.

Turkey has also sent commandos and set up military bases on Iraqi territory to support its offensives.

Turkish official says ground operation into Syria an option

A ground operation into Syria is one option Turkey could consider, a defense ministry official said on Oct. 5 after Ankara found that two attackers had come from Syria.

"Our only goal is to eliminate the terrorist organizations that pose a threat to Turkey. A ground operation is one of the options to eliminate this threat, but it is not the only option for us," the official said.

Turkish officials said any infrastructure and energy facilities in Iraq and Syria controlled by the PKK, as well as People's Protection Units (YPG), were legitimate military targets.

Ankara sees the YPG as the Syrian wing of the PKK.

"The PKK and the YPG are the same terrorist organization, they are our legitimate target everywhere. Turkey conducted operations whenever and wherever necessary in the past, and these operations will continue if needed again," the defense ministry official said.

"These operations are being conducted under self-defense rights arising from international law to eliminate terrorist attacks on Turkish territory and to ensure border security."

The YPG is also the spearhead of the main ally of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State. Support for the YPG by the United States and other allies, including France, has strained ties with Ankara.

Turkey has warned forces of third countries to stay away from facilities controlled by the PKK and YPG.

"We are calling on all parties, our friendly and allied countries in particular, to stay away from those terrorists. This is just a reminder. It is up to them to take necessary precautions," the official said, without naming any country.

Eight killed in Turkish air strikes on Kurdish-held zone in Syria

At least eight people have been killed in Turkish drone strikes on Oct. 5 on the Kurdish-held zone of northeast Syria, a war monitor and a local security source said, following Ankara's threats against Kurdish military facilities in Syria and Iraq.

Two were killed in a strike on a car near a military facility and another six were killed in a later strike on a military post near the town of Amuda, the security source told Reuters.

The U.S.-led coalition on Oct. 5 also downed a Turkish unmanned aerial vehicle flying near a base in northeast Syria where both coalition troops and an allied Kurdish-led force are located, a war monitor and a local security source said.

The U.S.-led coalition did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. A Turkish defense ministry official said they had no such information.

Two attackers detonated a bomb near government buildings before the opening ceremony of Turkish Parliament in Ankara on Oct. 1, killing them both and wounding two police officers.