World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkish soldiers have killed 26 Kurdish militants in two days in an offensive involving over 2,000 troops, as well as F-16 fighter planes operating on both sides of the Turkey-Iraq border, security sources said on Friday.
The operation against separatists from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) began on Wednesday night in Sirnak, a southeasterly province bordering Iraq and Syria and the site of frequent clashes between militants and Turkish troops.
This summer has been one of the bloodiest in Turkey since the PKK took up arms against the state in 1984 with the aim of carving out a Kurdish state.
Turkish security sources told Reuters 26 militants had been killed since the start of the offensive.
"The intense operation is continuing," the sources said.
The operation has largely focused on Kato mountain, a remote area of Sirnak, but Turkish security sources as well as Iraqi residents said planes had bombed areas inside northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
A Reuters witness said he had seen several F-16 planes take off from Diyarbakir air base on Thursday night and Friday morning. Diyarbakir is the main city in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast.
There were no reports that Turkish ground troops had crossed the border into northern Iraq, although Turkey has sent soldiers into the region in the past.
Turkey has stepped up air operations on suspected PKK militants in northern Iraq over the past year after an increase in PKK attacks, and the raids have fuelled tension between Ankara and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Security sources said one Turkish soldier had been killed during clashes with PKK militants at the start of the offensive on Wednesday night.
On Sunday, PKK fighters killed 10 members of Turkey's security services in simultaneous attacks on four state and security installations in Sirnak.
More than 40,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Ankara has linked the surge in violence to the unrest in neighbouring Syria and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has accused Syria's President Bashar al-Assad of arming the PKK militants.
Turkey has raised the possibility of military intervention in Syria if the PKK were to launch attacks from Syrian soil. On Wednesday, the military conducted a major military exercise on the Syrian border, a clear warning to Damascus.
Cavusoglu tells OSCE meeting that FETO is active in 170 countries
Presidential spokesman Kalin says Operation Euphrates Shield continues with determination according to plan
Total number of Syrian refugees living in Turkey amounts to almost 2.8 million as of Dec. 1
Numan Kurtulmus calls treatment of Turkish parliament Deputy Speaker Ayse Nur Bahcekapili at Cologne airport 'unacceptable'
Foreign minister says all the alleged Turkish coup plotter soldiers in Greece should be extradited to Turkey
Governments understand each other better than ever before on Syrian issue, Yıldırım tells Russian news agency
Suspects include 3 public officials, security sources say
Istanbul police head operation to arrest almost 60 FETO suspects across 16 Turkish provinces
Turkish parliament's deputy speaker delayed in row over travel documents at Cologne airport this week
'We can say a new era in our relations has started,' Yildirim says during first visit to Moscow as premier
Ankara public prosecutor seeks over 2 years in prison for HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtas
Deputy prime minister also reveals more than 220,000 Syrian adults taking vocational training in refugee centers
Mustafa Kemal Okem to assume duties on Dec. 12 after presenting his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin
Turkish lawmakers to explain Ankara's post-coup policies, foreign affairs