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Turkish airstrikes kill 26 Kurdish fighters in Turkey, Iraq: military

Turkish armed forces patrol Syria's Manbij area [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 June, 2018

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Ankara has stepped up its airstrikes against Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, saying ground forces are advancing toward Qandil.

Turkish air strikes killed 26 militants this week in the country's southeast and in northern Iraq, Turkey's military said on Tuesday. 

Air strikes were launched on Sunday and Monday in Diyarbakir and Sirnak provinces, as well as a part of northern Iraq where the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has troops present. 

Turkey has recently ramped up its attacks on PKK targets in northern Iraq, including Qandil, where Ankara suspects some of the group's leadership are located. 

Ankara has also increasingly warned of a potential ground offensive into Qandil. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavsoglu said on Tuesday Turkish troops were advancing toward the area with "determined steps".

Separately, a Turkish soldier was killed and two more wounded on Tuesday after an IED planted by the PKK detonated in Siirt, the governor of the southeastern province said. 

Two soldiers were also killed in the neighbouring province of Sirnak, which lies along the Iraqi border, during two explosions. 

Turkey has been in armed conflict with the PKK since 1984. Ankara, along with Washington and the European Union, classify the group as a terror organisation. 

Ankara is fighting the PKK both inside Turkey and in northern Iraq. 

Earlier this year, Ankara successfully carried out a major cross-border incursion into Syria along with allied rebels, capturing the northwestern Afrin region from the PKK. 

Analysts say a major operation against the PKK in northern Iraq could give Erdgan a bump in the polls ahead of the country's 24 June election. A poll released earlier this month predicted the longtime leader failing to capture a first-round victory and his ruling AK Party losing its majority in parliament. 

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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