Turkey launches second air raid against IS and PKK

  • 25/07/2015
A Turkish Air Force A400M tactical transport aircraft in Turkey (Reuters)
A Turkish Air Force A400M tactical transport aircraft in Turkey (Reuters)

Turkey has launched a second wave of raids against Islamic State jihadists in Syria and embarked on a new campaign to bombard camps of Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

Turkish F-16s took off from their base in the southeastern city in Diyarbakir on Friday (local time) to carry out a new wave of strikes against IS after a first set of attacks earlier in the day, the CNN-Turk and NTV television channels reported.

The raids marked a major shift in policy towards IS by key NATO member Turkey, which has faced severe criticism from its Western allies for not doing enough to combat the jihadists.

But on this occasion planes also bombed five camps of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants on Kandil mountain in northern Iraq where the group's military forces are based.

"At around 11pm (6am AEST) tonight, Turkish warplanes started bombing our positions near the border, accompanied by heavy artillery shelling," PKK spokesman in Iraq Bakhtiar Dogan told AFP.

There was no confirmation of the PKK raids from the Turkish government.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that the first bombing operation early Friday against IS had "100 percent" achieved its goals and had "successfully eliminated the targets" targeted by three Turkish F-16s.

The air raids were ordered after a suicide bombing blamed on IS that killed 32 activists on the Syrian border on Monday and cross-border clashes Thursday that claimed the life of a Turkish soldier.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said nine IS fighters were killed in the first attacks and 12 wounded.

Those raids bombed three targets controlled by Islamic State (IS) jihadists up to 14 kilometres inside Syrian territory, the official Anatolia news agency reported.

"Turkey will show the strongest reaction to the slightest movement that threatens it," Davutoglu said.

"The operation against IS reached its target and will not stop," he added.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in televised comments that the security situation had "got out of control" in the last days and Turkey had to act differently now.

The fighting has erupted after the killing of 32 people in a suicide bombing Monday in the Turkish town of Suruc on the Syrian border carried out by a 20-year old Turkish man linked to IS.

The attack, which targeted Turkish activists preparing an aid mission in Syria, sparked an upsurge in violence in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast, where many accuse Turkish authorities of collaborating with IS.

In an apparent bid to crack down on all sources of violence, Turkish police on Friday swooped on suspected members of IS group and the PKK, which has waged a separatist insurgency against the government in the southeast for decades.

A total of 297 people including 37 foreigners were detained, Davutoglu said, adding that the raids took place in 16 provinces across Turkey.

AFP