ANKARA/BAGHDAD (Sputnik) – Turkey has announced a twin air-and-ground offensive against a Kurdish insurgency in northern Iraq that has been outlawed by Ankara.
The Defense Ministry said the operations, Claw-Lightning and Claw-Thunder, began on Friday and continued throughout the night.
Ankaran Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said some 460 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets had been destroyed by ground fire and 60 others by air strikes in the Metina and Avasin-Basyan regions.
A source with the Iraqi security forces told Sputnik that by Saturday afternoon the Turkish operation had spread across much of the border area.
“It appears that the goal of the operation is to drive the incursion deep into Iraqi land. The Turkish armed forces are combing northern Iraq on land and from air,” the source said.
Turkey has regularly conducted cross-border operations in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, despite protests from Baghdad, in a bid to root out a PKK militancy which seeks to create a sovereign Kurdish state in parts of Turkey and Iraq.