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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Turkish troops kill 35 Kurdish rebels in N. Iraq

RIA Novosti

19/12/2007 16:03 ANKARA, December 19 (RIA Novosti) - The Turkish Army has conducted a major operation in northern Iraq, killing at least 35 Kurdish militants and wounding 20, national media reported on Wednesday.

The Turkish Army General Staff did not confirm the report, only saying that as a result of the operation, "very substantial losses" had been inflicted on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Turkey's Defense Ministry confirmed the conduct of a "limited operation" on Tuesday, saying that it was carried out when a group of insurgents had attempted to cross Turkey's border into northern Iraq.

According to the Milliyet daily, citing sources in the Kurdish administration, U.S.A.F. reconnaissance planes were involved in Sunday's operation.

As previously reported, a unit of Turkish special forces numbering about 300 carried out a brief operation early on Tuesday against Kurdish rebels, about three kilometers into Iraqi territory.

In mid-October, Turkey's parliament sanctioned military cross-border operations against PKK separatists following an earlier government request and despite opposition from Washington and Baghdad.

The PKK, labeled 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.

At least 80 Kurdish militants and over 50 Turkish soldiers have been killed in sporadic clashes near the border with Iraq since September.

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