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Turkey hits PKK in northern Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • The air attack targeted PKK outposts in the Qandil mountain
  • Turkish troops launched long-range missiles at PKK positions after air attack
  • Military: All warplanes returned safely to their bases in Turkey
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ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- Turkish warplanes and long-range missiles attacked Kurdish rebel positions in the mountains of northern Iraq near the Turkish border early Sunday, according to Turkish military officials.

A Turkish commando on patrol near the Turkey-Iraq border.

The air attack, which began around 1 a.m. and last for more than three hours, targeted Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) outposts in the Qandil mountain, the statement said.

Turkish ground troops launched long-range missiles at the PKK positions after the air attack, the statement said.

All warplanes returned safely to their bases in Turkey, the military said.

Jamal Abdullah, a spokesman for Iraq's autonomous Kurdish Regional Government said the targets of the attack appear to be PKK fighters in the border area, but there are reports of civilian casualties in nearby villages. He had no details on the casualty figures.

Tensions have been high along the Iraqi-Turkish border, with Turkey threatening to launch a full-scale cross-border offensive against separatist guerrillas from the PKK.

Those militants have launched actions against Turkish troops from northern Iraq and have been fighting the Turkish government forces in southeastern Turkey, where the violence has been steady.

The Turkish military government received approval from the parliament in October to take military action "at any time." There are tens of thousands of Turkish troops near the border area.

The United States, the Iraqi government and the Kurdish Regional Government had pursued diplomatic efforts over the past two months to keep Turkey from launching an offensive against the PKK. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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