Turkey strikes Kurd rebel bases, rules out new talks

AFP , Tuesday 3 Nov 2015

File Photo: A youth prepares to throw a stone as pallets burn during clashes between Turkish riot policemen and Kurdish protesters in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir after first results of the Turkish general election showed a clear victory to the Justice and Development Party (AKP), November 1, 2015 (Photo: AFP)

Turkish warplanes have bombed Kurdish rebel bases in Turkey and northern Iraq, the army said Tuesday, as the government ruled out an immediate resumption of stalled peace talks.

"Shelters, caves and arms depots identified as being used by terrorists from the separatist terrorist organisation were destroyed with air bombardments," the military said.

Monday's air strikes targeted bases of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern province of Hakkari near the Iraqi border, as well as several regions in northern Iraq including their main stronghold on Qandil mountain.

The latest army operation was launched just after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan swept back to power in Sunday's election.

The government launched a new air war against the PKK after militant attacks in July, shattering a fragile 2013 truce aimed at ending three decades of bloody conflict.

Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan said conditions were not yet ripe to revive peace talks.

"For us to say the peace process has started, the factors poisoning this process should be removed," he said in an interview with NTV television.

Akdogan however declined to give a direct answer when asked if the state would start talking with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, saying certain conditions must be fulfilled.

"The PKK's departure from Turkey, a state of inactivity in the full sense... only after that can other issues be discussed."

Kurdish rebels launched an armed campaign for greater autonomy in southeastern Turkey in 1984 and the conflict has since claimed 45,000 lives.

Fighting resumed after a bomb attack on pro-Kurdish activists in the border town of Suruc in July that killed 34 people and was blamed on the Islamic State group.

Kurdish militants accuse Ankara of collaborating with IS jihadists, who are battling fellow Kurd fighters in Syria.

After a massive suicide bombing last month on a peace rally in Ankara which killed 102 people, the PKK announced a unilateral ceasefire, a move that was seen as an attempt to calm tensions for the election.

International observers have charged that the election was marred by security concerns and that army operations in the southeast hampered the ability of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) to campaign.

Akdogan however denied the criticism and said elections were held "peacefully."

The HDP became the first party representing Turkey's estimated 15-20 million Kurds to enter parliament in the June election, but it lost votes on Sunday, a decline blamed on the renewed conflict.

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