Turkey shells northern Iraq: Kurdish rebels

AFP , Tuesday 18 Oct 2011

Turkey blitzes northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, a Kurdish rebel spokesman says

Turkey was shelling northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region on Tuesday, a Kurdish rebel spokesman said, in the first report of Turkish bombardment in the area in more than two weeks.

The shelling began Monday night "against Khowakirk and Zab in northeast Dohuk" province, said Dozdar Hammo, a spokesman for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which operates out of bases in Kurdistan.

It was still ongoing early Tuesday afternoon, he said, adding that there were no reports of casualties.

The shelling was the first report of Turkish bombardment in Kurdistan since September 29, when the PKK said Turkish warplanes carried out strikes in the region.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, himself a Kurd, said during a visit to Ankara this month that the presence of Kurdish rebels in the north was "unacceptable," but stopped short of offering a solution.

Turkey's parliament overwhelmingly voted on October 5 to extend the government's mandate to order military strikes against Kurdish rebels in neighbouring Iraq for one more year.

Since 2007, Turkey has renewed the motion giving a green light for the Turkish military to conduct cross-border raids to hit PKK hideouts in northern Iraq. The current authorisation was to expire on October 17.

The Turkish military has repeatedly attacked suspected PKK targets since August 17.

The PKK took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.

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