Turkey kills 14 PKK militants in north Iraq

Turkey’s military said it killed 14 members of the extremist leftist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in airstrikes in northern Iraq today, as Ankara steps up a push against the group and their affiliates in Iraq and Syria.

Turkey has intensified attacks on the PKK in northern Iraq and its Syrian-Kurdish affiliate, the YPG, in northern Syria. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today that as many as 220 militants had been killed in recent strikes elsewhere in northern Iraq.

Six militants were killed around the area of Sinat-Haftan and eight in the countryside around Adiyaman in two separate air strikes in northern Iraq on Saturday morning, the military said in a statement.

The PKK, which has carried out a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state, has camps in the mountains of northern Iraq. Both the United States and Turkey consider it a terrorist organisation.

However, the NATO allies disagree on the Syrian-Kurdish YPG, which the United States sees as a useful partner in the fight against Daesh in Syria. Erdogan considers the Syrian-Kurdish fighters to be a terrorist group and is concerned their advances in northern Syrian could fuel the Kurdish insurgency at home.

He is expected to raise the issue when he meets with US President Donald Trump next month.

“We tell our American friends not to take terrorists with them,” Erdogan said in comments broadcast live on network NTV.

He reiterated his position that he does not want the United States to use the YPG in the fight to take Raqqa, Daesh’s de facto capital in Syria.

“America, coalition forces and Turkey can join hands and Raqqa will turn into a graveyard for Daesh,” he said.

He said some 210-220 militants had been killed in recent airstrikes elsewhere in northern Iraq.

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