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June 19, 2018 9:12 am

Army: Turkish Airstrikes Kill 26 Militants in Southeast Turkey, Iraq

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at the presidential palace in Ankara. Photo: Reuters / Kayhan Ozer.

Turkish air strikes killed 26 militants and destroyed their gun positions, shelters and ammunition stores in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq this week, Turkey’s military said on Tuesday.

The military said in a statement on Twitter that the strikes were carried out on Sunday and Monday in Diyarbakir and Sirnak provinces and an area of northern Iraq where the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group has bases.

The Turkish military has ramped up air strikes in northern Iraq, targeting PKK bases in Qandil, close to the Iraq-Iran border, where Ankara suspects high-ranking members of the outlawed group are located.

Ankara has also recently stepped up warnings of a potential ground offensive into the Qandil region, with President Tayyip Erdogan vowing to “drain the terror swamp” there.

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Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday Turkish troops were advancing on Qandil with “determined steps.”

Separately, a Turkish soldier was killed and two wounded on Tuesday by an improvised explosive device planted by the PKK in the southeastern province of Siirt, the governor’s office said.

In the neighboring province of Sirnak, bordering Iraq, two Turkish soldiers were killed and three others wounded in two separate explosions, a security source said.

The PKK, which has waged an insurgency in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey since 1984, is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

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