Turkey hits PKK camps as parliament meets

  • 30/07/2015
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish warplanes have pounded targets of PKK militants in northern Iraq, as parliament was to meet in emergency session to debate the government's controversial campaign against Kurdish rebels and jihadists.

Turkey's military campaign – which the government says was it was forced to carry out after a series of attacks blamed on Islamic State jihadists and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants – has inflamed tensions in Turkey after its inconclusive June elections.

The strikes were initially aimed at IS jihadists but were rapidly expanded to include bombing of camps of PKK militants at their stronghold in the mountains of northern Iraq.

The pro-Kurdish opposition has furiously accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of ordering the air strikes as revenge for its strong performance in June 7 general elections which cost the ruling party its overall majority.

The possibly stormy session of the Turkish parliament is due to get under way at 12:00pm (local time) and include an address by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Turkish jets overnight launched the latest operation against the militants, hitting PKK camps in northern Iraq, the prime minister's office said in a statement.

"Air operations were conducted throughout the night 28-29 July against the PKK terrorist group inside Turkey and outside," it said in a statement, listing six PKK locations in northern Iraq hit by the war planes.

The PKK targets inside Turkey were in the Sirnak province in the far southeast of the country, reports said.

"The Turkish Republic will continue its rightful fight on legitimate grounds within the framework of national and international law, without succumbing to the threats of terrorist organisations," the statement added.

Erdogan had said on Tuesday before leaving on a trip to China that it was "not possible" to carry on with a peace process in the face of the current attacks by the PKK.

Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which won 13 percent of the vote in the June 7 elections, hit back that Erdogan simply wanted to trigger snap elections and score a political revenge over the party.

"Our only crime is to win 13 percent of the vote," Demirtas said, saying one of the main objectives of the campaign was to "harm" the HDP.

The PKK has waged an insurgency for self-rule and greater rights in Turkey's southeast since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The parties appeared to be inching towards a final peace deal after a ceasefire was agreed on 2013. But the current fighting has left the prospects of a settlement as far off as ever.

Meanwhile, Turkish police are pressing on with nationwide raids against suspected IS, PKK and Marxist militants across the country, with at least 1302 people arrested so far, according to the prime minister's office.