Turkish military says kills 6 Kurdish militants in northern Iraq

Turkish F-16 fighte jet

(Reuters) Turkey’s military killed six members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in air strikes in northern Iraq on Thursday, the army said in a statement.

Turkish warplanes hit the Avasin-Basyan region in northern Iraq, killing PKK militants believed to be in preparation of an attack, the military said.

The PKK, which has carried out a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state, has camps in the mountains of northern Iraq, near the Turkish border. It is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

A ceasefire between the Turkish state and the PKK broke down in July 2015 and the southeast subsequently saw some of the worst violence since the PKK launched its insurgency in 1984.

Turkey and Iraq had engaged in diplomatic disputes a few months ago over the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq;s Nineveh. While Ankara said its forces were training local groups to fight Islamic State militants, Baghdad maintained that the military presence represented a breach of its sovereignty.

Ankara has also been concerned with Kurdish groups in neighboring Syria. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been actively engaged in the fight against Islamic State in Syria, but Ankara views the group as an extension of the PKK.

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