Turkish military operations in northern Iraq have killed some 90-100 PKK militants since last week's launch of artillery and air strikes against the militant group, the armed forces said on Tuesday.
The air strikes are the first against militants in the mountains of northern Iraq in more than a year and mark an escalation of the 27-year-old conflict after the collapse of efforts to negotiate a settlement.
In six days of cross-border air raids, Turkish warplanes struck 132 targets of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which uses the region as a base to launch attacks on Turkey.
The armed forces launched the operations on Aug. 17 in response to a surge in PKK attacks in southeast Turkey. Kurdish politicians in northern Iraq have condemned the raids, saying they were contrary to international norms.
An army statement said definite figures on PKK casualties were not available but it had information that more than 80 militants were wounded in the operations, which hit 73 shelters, eight stores and nine anti-aircraft positions.
"According to initial information 90-100 terrorists were rendered ineffective," according to the General Staff, using an expression referring to the killing of militants. "The air and ground operations will continue," the military added.
"Turkish jets hit 13 targets in Metina, Zap, Avashin-Bashyan and Kharkurk on August 20, 4 targets in Qandil, Gara, Zap and Metina on August 21, and 7 targets in Zap, Kharkurk, Avashin-Bashyan and Qandil on August 22," it said.
"During the air offensive in which the high-tech target acquisition and shooting control systems, jets hit 132 targets while artillery units shelled 349 targets. 73 hiding places, 6 shelters, 18 caves, 8 depots, 14 buildings, 1 arsenal, 9 anti-aircraft positions and 3 control points were destroyed," it said.
"According to initial information 90-100 terrorists were rendered ineffective. More than 80 terrorists were wounded. They were taken to nearby hospitals and villages in the region. A number of terrorists fled to villages and forced residents in those villages to be a human shield," it said.
The military said that five terrorists who were among those who ambushed and killed nine security forces on Hakkari-Cukurca highway on August 17 were also killed during the operation.
"Air and land operations will continue both in northern Iraq and within the borders of Turkey to eradicate the terrorist organization," the military added.
The casualty figures could not be confirmed.
A news agency close to the militants has said three PKK militants were killed in the raids, while a local mayor and witnesses in northern Iraq have said seven Iraqis were killed in a Turkish air strike in the region on Sunday.
PKK militants have killed some 40 Turkish security personnel in just over a month. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the PKK took up arms in 1984.
AgenciesLast Mod: 23 Ağustos 2011, 12:06