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Erdogan: Without Russia & Iran, Assad will fall in 24 hours
05:52 - Source: CNN

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Turkish troops haven't entered Iraq since a ceasefire was signed in 2013 with Kurds

PKK has been targeted by airstrikes, and Turkish news agency says the rebels have killed security forces

Two sides have been in conflict for decades

CNN  — 

Turkish soldiers have crossed the border into northern Iraq in “a hot-pursuit presence as part of combating terrorism,” a Turkish government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN on Tuesday.

It has been more than two years since a Turkish ground incursion into Iraq, its southeastern neighbor.

The Turkish military has conducted airstrikes in recent months against suspected targets of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the mountains of northern Iraq. They have also arrested PKK members in Turkey.

The Kurdistan Worker’s Party, which seeks an independent state in Turkey, has been in an armed struggle with Turkey for decades and has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The conflict has killed 45,000 people since 1984.

Turkey’s semi-official Anadolu news agency quoted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying: “If the people in the region stand against the terrorist organization … this issue will be quickly solved.”

Anadolu reported that more than 100 Turkish security forces – including 13 police officers who died Tuesday – have been killed since July.

The PKK maintains some camps in the rugged border area of northern Iraq, an autonomous region not controlled of the central government in Baghdad where many Kurds from Turkey have relocated. The region is governed by the Kurdistan Regional government.

In July, the PKK issued a statement declaring a 2013 ceasefire with Turkey to be over, according to pro-PKK Firat News Agency.

Other Kurdish fighters have been battling ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali and Salma Abdelaziz contributed to this report.