Wars and Military Conflicts

Turkey attacks Kurdish militant camps in Northern Iraq

Ceylan Yeginsu

Turkish fighter jets, which on Friday attacked Islamic State targets in Syria, have launched a wave of airstrikes in northern Iraq, targeting camps of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party for the first time in four years, the prime minister's office said Saturday.

The Iraq incursion, which began late Friday and continued into Saturday, effectively ended an unstable two-year cease-fire between the Turkish government and the Kurdish militants, known by the initials P.K.K. After 30 years of conflict that claimed at least 40,000 lives, the two sides reached a fragile peace in 2013, though there have been a few minor clashes since then.

Town of al-Qaim at the Iraqi-Syrian border
Patrick Baz | AFP | Getty Images

Fighter jets also struck Islamic State targets in Syria for a second night, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's office said in the statement Saturday. The jets entered Syrian airspace to do so, the statement said, unlike during the previous strikes, which the government said were carried out from across the border.

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Turkey this week began taking a more active role in fighting the Islamic State, agreeing to let the United States use its airbases to attack the militants in Syria as well as carrying out its own strikes. The moves came after a suicide bomber suspected to have ties to the Islamic State struck a cultural center in the Turkish border town of Suruc on Monday, killing at least 32 people, in one of the worst cases of spillover violence from the war in Syria.

The attack Monday also inflamed tensions between Turkey and Kurdish nationalists, who accused the government of collaborating with the Islamic State and facilitating their activities within Turkey. The military branch of the P.K.K. killed two Turkish police officers in Turkey's southeast on Tuesday, in an attack that they said was in retaliation for the Suruc bombing.

On Friday, Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said that all terrorist organizations must lay down their weapons or "face consequences."

The last time Turkey carried out strikes against P.K.K. camps in northern Iraq was in 2011, when they launched a six-day offensive, striking 132 targets.