Turkey’s warplanes hit Kurdish targets in Iraq
On Sunday night, Turkish warplanes attacked several Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) locations in northern Iraq. The coordinated attack across multiple areas were carried out by F-16s flying out of several air force bases like those in the southeastern cities of Diyarbakir and Malatya. Such offensives of Kurdish installations in southeast and northern Iraq are a regular affair and this particular one seems to have been in response to increase Kurdish attacks on Turkish army bases.
The air operation went after the PKK stronghold in Qandil near the Iranian border, as well as the areas of Sinjar, Zap, Avasin-Basyan and Hakurk. The defence ministry has also been promising potential ground offensive in recent years. The PKK is a designated terrorist group in Turkey and among other Western countries. It has been fighting an armed battle with the Turkish state since 1984, both inside and outside its borders, and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
The attacks come just days after a secret visit by the head of Turkish intelligence to Baghdad. Head of Turkish Intelligence Services Hakan Fidan met with several Iraqi politicians, government officials and his counterpart in Iraqi intelligence. Ostensibly, the intention was to access the internal political atmosphere surrounding the Iraqi-IS dialogue.
Turkey is known to be concerned about the PKK being able to operate and carry on its activities outside the influence of the government in Baghdad and this matter is expected to set the tone of Turkish-Iraqi relationship in the years to come. With the decline in the influence of Ankara-supported Iraqi Sunni groups, Turkey is no longer a player in the country and is only in a position to respond to rather than direct actions there.
The hits were in response to an increase in attacks on Turkish bases by the PKK.