Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli: Turkey will remain in Iraq | News | DW | 12.06.2018
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Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli: Turkey will remain in Iraq

Turkey's military has said its warplanes hit 12 Kurdish rebel targets in cross-border raids in northern Iraq. It comes as the Turkey's defense minister said it would not stop until all rebel groups were removed.

A Turkish Air Forces warplane takes off from Incirlik Air Base in Adana, southern Turkey, in April 2015 (picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Gurel)

A Turkish Air Forces warplane takes off from Incirlik Air Base in Adana, southern Turkey, in April 201

The Turkish military on Tuesday said its jets hit 12 Kurdish rebel sites overnight, including shelters, weapon positions and ammunition depots used by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq's Hakurk, Avasin-Basyan and Qandil regions.

The Qandil mountain region is where Turkey claims that the senior PKK leadership has its headquarters.

Turkey has been broadening its operations in its southern neighbor and has vowed to destroy a stronghold of the militant fighters.

Read more: The Middle East's complex Kurdish landscape

The army also said that 34 militants had been "neutralized" in operations in northern Iraq between June 1 and 8. "Neutralized” is a term the military uses to refer to operations in which opposition forces have been killed, wounded or captured.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is facing presidential elections on June 24, on Monday said Turkey would drain the "terror swamp" in Qandil.

Read more: Kirkuk: What you need to know about the Kurdish-Iraqi dispute

Turkey to remain in Iraq

Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said Turkey had strengthened its military bases in northern Iraq and that they would stay in the area until the PKK stops being a threat to Turkey.

Canikli denied that Turkey's operations against Qandil were aimed at stoking nationalist sentiment ahead of the country's June 24 elections.

Read more: Who are the Kurds?

Canikli said Turkey would remain in northern Iraq until all terrorist groups were removed, amid increasing government warnings of a military operation against Kurdish militants based in the Qandil mountains.

Canikli made the comment at a roundtable interview with the state-run Anadolu news agency, where he also said Turkey had offered to carry out a potential operation into Qandil with Iran, who has voiced support for the offensive. He said Turkey was in full agreement with Baghdad on the operation.

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law/msh (AP, Reuters)

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