Ankara stepped up its fight against militants in Turkey and northern Syria with air strikes on Kurdish rebel positions in the restive southeast and IS extremists in northern Syria, security sources said on Sunday.
Jets bombed four PKK targets in the Cukurca district of the southeastern province of Hakkari close to northern Iraq yesterday evening, the sources told state-run Anadolu news agency.
The bombing took place after a bloody 48 hours during which at least 22 Turkish soldiers and a village guardsman were killed in clashes and an attack blamed on PKK militants.
Twelve soldiers were killed in two separate clashes in the Cukurca and Semdinli districts in Hakkari, the provincial governor’s office said, while in Van province, eight soldiers died during fighting between soldiers and militants. Two more died in southeastern Mardin, Anadolu said.
The village guard, killed in an attack in Mardin on Friday, was part of a group of local residents who cooperate with Turkish security forces against the PKK, listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
Another six PKK positions were hit in the Mount Tendurek region between Agri and Van provinces in the country’s east on Saturday evening, Anadolu said.
The Turkish military said more than 100 PKK fighters were “neutralised” during clashes in Cukurca with its security forces onsaturday, without explaining how many were killed and how many were injured.
Meanwhile Turkish warplanes destroyed Islamic State (IS) group targets in northern Syria yesterday, hours after Ankara sent more tanks from the southern Kilis province to support Syrian rebels.
A two-year ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK collapsed last year, after which Kurdish rebels launched frequent attacks on security forces in the country’s southeast.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim vowed that billions of lira would be invested in centres “damaged by PKK terror” during a televised speech in Diyarbakir on Sunday.
He promised 1.9 billion lira (643 million dollars) would be invested in the historic Sur district of Diyarbakir, which has been ravaged by renewed violence.
Another seven “terror-damaged” areas would receive 10 billion lira and Yildirim promised thousands of new homes would be built in the southeast.
More than 600 Turkish security force members have been killed since July 2015 while more than 7,000 militants have been killed in Turkey and northern Iraq, Anadolu said.
It is not possible to independently verify the toll.
Activists claim innocent civilians have also been killed in the offensives.
More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK first took up arms in 1984.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that NATO countries needed a common approach to all terrorist acts and organisations after talks with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China’s Hangzhou.
“There is no good terrorist or bad terrorist. All types of terrorism are bad. We must stand against them,” said Turkish President Erdogan.