Turkish warplanes have hit rebel Kurdish bases in northern Iraq for the last two nights. The strikes aimed at bases used by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) following an attack by the separatists that killed nine Turkish troops and another 14 injured in the attack in the district of Cukurca, in Hakkari province.
No casualties were reported from the strikes, but the Turkish government intend to continue bombings, vowing to press ahead with strikes until the rebels were “rendered ineffective”.
The second night of air strikes on Thursday drew some extra attention when Turkish planes reportedly hit bases in Qandil, which lies just across the border in Iraq.
In the PKK’s 26-year insurgency against the Turkish state, their fight for autonomy has manifested recently in a dramatic increase in attacks. Just last Saturday, three soldiers were killed in a PKK ambush in eastern Turkey while last month 13 soldiers and seven Kurdish rebels were killed in the deadliest clash in three years.
The Turkish government is devising new strategies of military and police cooperation to clamp down on the group, which is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. But the recent rise in violence has prompted reminders of the 1990s era conflict. Especially towards the end of that decade, the Turkish government committed major atrocities, tending not to discriminate between active PKK members and the civilian Kurdish population. These crimes were carried out with full U.S. support at the time, although U.S. aid to Turkey has declined significantly since then.