Turkish jets have struck suspected Kurdish rebel targets in a cross-border raid in northern Iraq, Turkish and Kurdish media reported Tuesday, even as Turkey started peace talks with the rebels’ imprisoned leader.
The private Dogan news agency, citing unnamed sources, said four F-16 jets fired at 12 targets of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, on Mount Qandil, on the Iraqi-Iranian border, late on Monday. It did not report any casualties.
There was no official confirmation of the raid, which was also reported by Firat news, a website close to the rebels.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, urged Kurds for calm at the funeral later this week of three Kurdish activists who were found shot dead in Paris.
Some have speculated that the killings of the three women activists, including a founding member of the PKK, may be an effort to derail the talks with Abdullah Ocalan, the rebels’ leader who is serving a life term in prison on an island near Istanbul.
The victims are set to be buried in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast on Thursday. Turkey fears the funerals could turn into a show of support for the PKK — which could, in turn, trigger a nationalist backlash against dialogue.
“(Some) want to dynamite the peace process that we have started,” Erdogan said in a speech to his party’s legislators in Parliament. “We must not allow this.”
Talks with Ocalan are aimed at persuading the PKK to disarm and end the conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.
Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said last week that operations against the PKK would continue “until the rebels are no longer in a position to attack,” despite the peace talks.
The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and its U.S. and EU allies.
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