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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Turkish warplanes bomb northern Iraq, kill 19

Iran Press TV

Sat Dec 10, 2016 8:15AM

Turkish fighter jets have bombarded an area in northern Iraq, killing at least 19 people.

The warplanes took off from an air base in Diyarbakir and targeted the northern Iraqi region of Gara on Saturday, military sources said.

They said the bombing came in response to threats that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants were preparing an attack on military units at the border.

Turkey frequently launches air attacks in the mountainous regions of northern Iraq without coordination with the Baghdad government.

Ankara has also deployed troops into Iraq, sparking a bitter rift with Baghdad which views it as a violation of its sovereignty.

They are based in a town near the Iraqi city of Mosul which is currently the focus of a massive operation to recapture it from Daesh terrorists.

Turkey says its troops are there to fight Daesh and train Kurdish forces. In October, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Turkey would keep troops in Iraq despite Baghdad's opposition.

Turkey's parliament earlier voted to extend the deployment of an estimated 2,000 troops across northern Iraq by a year to combat "terrorist organizations" - a wording broad enough to refer to Kurdish militants as well as Daesh.

Iraq condemned the vote, and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned Turkey risked triggering a regional war. Both countries have summoned each other's ambassadors in a mounting diplomatic standoff.

Turkey shares a 1,200 km border with Syria and Iraq. Its army launched an incursion into Syria in August allegedly to push back Daesh and prevent the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia from seizing ground.

Ankara regards YPG an offshoot of the PKK. The Turkish military has also been pounding the group's alleged positions in Iraq and Syria in breach of the Arab countries' sovereignty.

Turkey and the PKK had ceased long-running armed hostilities since 2013 until a deadly July 2015 bombing in Suruc, which the Turkish government blamed on the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

After the bombing, the PKK militants, who accuse Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, prompting Turkey's military operations in turn.

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