MS Risk Blog

Turkey Launches Air Strikes in Northern Iraq

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Turkish jets launched their heaviest assault on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq overnight since air strikes were launched last week. The latest strikes come just hours after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stated that a peace process had become impossible.

A statement released by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office indicated that the strikes hit Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets, including shelters, depots and caves in six areas. A source has reported that this was the largest assault since the campaign began. Iraq has condemned the air strikes, stating that they are a “dangerous escalation and an assault on Iraqi sovereignty.” It further indicated that it was committed to ensuring that militant attacks on Turkey were not carried out from within its territory.

Last Friday, Turkey launched near-simultaneous strikes against PKK camps in Iraq and against Islamic State (IS) fighters in neighbouring Syria. At the time, the country’s prime minister indicated that the strikes were a “synchronized fight against terror.” The strikes came just days after the NATO member opened up its air base to the US-led coalition against IS, in a move that effectively see’s Turkey join the front-line in the battle against the jihadist group after years of reluctance. However Turkey’s air strikes on the PKK have so far been far heavier than those against IS, which have fuelled suspicions that its real agenda is keeping Kurdish political and territorial ambitions in check. This has been denied by the Turkish government, who has made it clear that its operations against IS militants in Syria will not include air cover for Syrian Kurdish fighters who are also battling the jihadists. The Turkish government has indicated that the air strikes against the PKK are in response to increased militant violence in recent weeks, including a series of targeted killings of police officers and soldiers blamed on the Kurdish militant group. On Tuesday, Turkish fighter jets bombed PKK targets in the southeastern Turkish province of Sirnak, which borders Iraq. The bombings came after an attack on a group of gendarmes.

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