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Turkey Targets IS in Syria, PKK in Iraq

by Dorian Jones July 25, 2015

Turkish fighter jets hit Islamic State militant camps in Syria and Turkish ground forces struck the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) sites in northern Iraq overnight Saturday.

Turkey's officials said that the raids aim at creating a "safe zone" throughout a vast area of northern Syria.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the country's security operations will continue as long as necessary.

'These operations are not one-point operations and will continue as long as there is a threat against Turkey,' Davutoglu said. 'No one should doubt our determination. We will not allow Turkey to be turned into a lawless country.'

​​Shilan Eminoglu, a representative of a party affiliated with the PKK, condemned the bombing of Kurdish camps.

Eminoglu said that Turkey's campaign will exacerbate the already poor diplomatic relations with the northern Iraqi region and beyond.

'Unfortunately it will have an impact on the whole Middle East, especially Iraqi Kurdistan, because any disagreements in Turkey will have consequences for Kurdistan," Eminoglu said.

Peace accord

The strike on the PKK marks the first time Turkey has hit the Kurds in Iraq with an air attack since a peace accord was announced in 2013.

A government statement said Turkey's jets hit PKK shelters, bunkers, storage facilities and other 'logistic points.'

Turkish media reports another mission took off late Friday. The airstrikes were Turkey's first against Islamic State targets in Syria.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey has agreed to let American jets use the U.S.-operated Incirlik Air Base for combat missions against Islamic State.

He held telephone consultations with President Barack Obama this past week on relaxing Turkish restrictions on U.S. combat missions originating in Turkish territory.

Turkey has seen itself drawn into more cross-border clashes in recent weeks. Islamic State fighters in Syria and the Turkish military engaged in a skirmish Thursday that left at least one Turkish officer dead.

Violence

Thirty-two people, mostly young activists preparing for an aid mission to Syria, were killed last Monday in a devastating suicide bombing in Suruc, Turkey. The Turkish government blames Islamic State.

Also Friday, Turkish officials said 251 people were arrested during massive raids at dawn nationwide, targeting both Islamic State and Kurdish militant groups.

Hundreds more arrests were reported to have been made by Saturday.

More than 5,000 police officers, backed by helicopters, raided at least 100 locations across Istanbul, media reports said.



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