Turkey launches a new air offensive in northern Iraq

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Turkey has launched a new cross-border ground and air offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq

Turkish jets and artillery have attacked suspected targets of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and commandos – supported by helicopters and drones – and then entered the region by land or were flown by helicopters, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a video published on the website of the ministry.

Akar said the jets successfully hit PKK shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, ammunition depots and headquarters. The group maintains bases in northern Iraq and has used the area for attacks on Turkey.

Turkey has conducted numerous cross-border air and ground operations against the PKK over the past few decades. The latest offensive, dubbed Operation Claw Lock, focused on northern Iraq’s Metina, Zap, and Avashin-Basyan regions.

There was no information on the number of troops and jets involved in the latest attack.

“Our heroic commandos and maroon berets — supported by helicopter gunships, unmanned aerial vehicles and armed unmanned aerial vehicles — arrived on the scene by land and air and captured the designated targets,” Akar said in a second video. “Many terrorists have been neutralized.”

“At this point we have achieved, all planned targets have been captured,” he said.

The Ministry of Defense said the new offensive was launched after it was determined that militants were regrouping and preparing for a “large-scale attack”.

The offensive was carried out in coordination with Turkey’s “friends and allies”, the ministry added, but did not elaborate. Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, which controls the attacked areas.

The Turkish minister said the attack was aimed at “terrorists” and that “maximum sensitivity” was being shown to avoid damage to civilians and cultural and religious structures.

There was no immediate statement from the Kurdish militant group.

Tens of thousands have been killed since the PKK, classified as a terrorist organization by the US and European Union, launched an uprising in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast region in 1984.

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