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Turkey Drops Bombs on Kurdish Group That Has Fought the Islamic State in Iraq

Turkish forces bombed camps belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group that has been particularly effective at driving back the Islamic State.
Photo via AP/Depo Photos

Turkish forces bombed camps belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, officials confirmed on Saturday. The airstrikes — which were coupled with strikes against the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria — complicate US-led coalition efforts to fight IS, as the PKK has been particularly effective at driving back militant forces on the ground in Iraq.

The PKK, which the Turkish government recognizes as a terrorist organization, has been fighting Ankara for independence since 1984. The two sides reached a peace agreement in 2013, but that deal that was likely dissolved by Friday's bombings.


Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the PKK violated their agreement to disarm and withdraw their fighters from Turkish territory.

Related: Turkish Aircraft Have Bombed Islamic State Militants in Syria

Earlier this week, the PKK claimed responsibility for killing two Turkish police officers near the city of Sanliurfa on the Syrian border. Seven more police officers were wounded when suspected PKK militants bombed a police station in Bismil, the Dogan news agency reported Friday. Another bomb was reportedly lobbed at police officers in Semdinli, near Turkey's border with Iraq the same day.

"Turkey's operations will, if needed, continue until the terror organizations' command centers, all locations where they plan [attacks] against Turkey and all depots used to store arms to be used against Turkey are destroyed," Davutoglu said in a statement.

The announcement came one day after Turkish police carried out a series of domestic raids on "terror organizations," including IS, the PKK, and the Marxist-Leninist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). Officials said 251 people were detained across 13 different cities on Friday; on Saturday, more than 300 more were rounded up in a second raid, bringing the total number of detained to 590 in 22 provinces.

Related: Turkey's President Denies Helping Islamic State Massacre Civilians in Kobane

Friday's airstrikes against IS are part of an intensified effort by Turkey to crack down on the extremist group. Earlier this week, President Barack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finalized a deal that will allow US forces to conduct operations from Incirlik airbase near the Syrian border.


IS launched an attack on a Turkish border post that left one Turkish soldier and at least one IS fighter dead on Thursday. On Monday, a suicide bomber believed to be associated with IS, killed 32 people in Suruc, a small town on the Turkish border with Syria.

Follow Tessa Stuart on Twitter: @tessastuart

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Watch the VICE News documentary, PKK Youth: Fighting for Kurdish Neighborhoods: