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Turkish soldiers invade Iraq to hunt down PKK

TURKISH troops invaded Iraq yesterday in “hot pursuit” of Kurdistan Workers’ Party guerillas, in the latest escalation of the war engulfing the Middle East.

Ground forces crossed into northern Iraq for the first time since 2011 in a “short-term” operation, a Turkish government official said, as air force jets carried out more air strikes against PKK camps in the region.

“This is a short-term measure intended to prevent the terrorists’ escape,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

He did not say how many Turkish troops had crossed the border or how long the operation would last, but the Dogan news agency reported that two battalions of special forces had entered Iraq.

PKK spokesman Bakhtyar Dogan said that the Turkish forces had entered from the Zagros mountains area of Iraq, but that they had not engaged guerillas in combat.

The incursion followed a series of PKK attacks that have killed 31 police and soldiers since Sunday, when a roadside bomb killed 16 army personnel.

The PKK staged another roadside bomb attack yesterday in the eastern province of Igdir as a police vehicle escorting a group of customs officials to a border gate was passing. Fourteen police officers were killed and others were wounded.

Another police officer was shot dead in the nearby province of Tunceli.

The military claimed that it had killed up to 40 PKK guerillas in overnight air raids on camps in northern Iraq involving 53 US-made F-16 and F-4 jets, adding that 25 fighters believed to have carried out Sunday’s attack were among them.

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