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Turkey, Iran launch joint raid against Kurdish rebels: Minister

AFP , Monday 18 Mar 2019
A column of armoured Turkish military vehicles drives on a patrol along a road in a de-militarised zone in the northwestern countryside of Hama province on March 17, 2019 (Photo: AFP)
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Turkey and Iran on Monday started a joint military operation against Kurdish rebels on Turkey's eastern border, state-run Anadolu news agency quoted the interior minister as saying.

Turkey has recently talked about a possible joint operation with neighbour Iran to counter outlawed militants from the the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), but this is the first time Turkish authorities have confirmed a raid.

"We started staging a joint operation with Iran against the PKK on our eastern border as of 0800 (0500 GMT) this morning," Suleyman Soylu said of the operation against the PKK, listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

"We will announce the result later," he said.

Soylu did not specify precisely which PKK bases the planned operation targeted but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in the past said it would be against militant hideouts in Iraq.

The Turkish military has often bombed PKK bases in Iraq's mountainous northern regions as part of its decades-long operations against the group.

Iranian security forces have also fought the PKK affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). Both groups have rear bases in neighbouring Iraq.

The PKK has waged a three-and-a-half decade insurgency against the Turkish state, initially seeking independence and more recently autonomy for Turkey's Kurdish minority. Fighting has left tens of thousands dead.

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