Fierce clashes in northern Iraq between Turkish troops and PKK fighters
Turkish forces were engaged in fierce clashes with Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq as they closed in on one of the main Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)camps, security sources said Tuesday. Members of the Kurdish security force in the autonomous north of Iraq told AFP sustained fighting continued unabated since late Sunday as troops, backed by artillery and air cover, fought to seize a main rebel camp in the Zap area.
The camp, situated just a six kilometers from the Turkish border, is one of the main passages used by PKK fighters to infiltrate Turkish territory for attacks. Clashes also continued since late Monday in the mountainous Hakurk area to the east, close to Iraq's border with Iran, where the Turkish army air-dropped troops and helicopter gunships pounded PKK positions, the sources said.
The clashes came a day after Turkish air-planes bombed Hakurk, a prominent PKK stronghold some 20 kilometres from the Turkish frontier. The Turkish army said Monday that it killed 153 PKK members and lost 17 troops since the beginning of the incursion.
At the weekend, the Iraqi government called on Ankara to pullout its forces "as soon as possible", while the White House also said it hoped the Turkish incursion would be short-lived and would avoid harming civilians.