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 Turkey shells Iraqi Kurdistan: Kurdish PKK rebels

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Turkey shells Iraqi Kurdistan: Kurdish PKK rebels  18.10.2011  

October 18, 2011

ERBIL-Hewlęr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Turkey was shelling northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region on Tuesday, a Kurdish rebel spokesman said, in the first report of Turkish bombardment in the area in more than two weeks.

The shelling began Monday night "against Khowakirk and Zab in northeast Dohuk" province, said Dozdar Hammo, a spokesman for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which operates out of bases in Kurdistan.

It was still ongoing early Tuesday afternoon, he said, adding that there were no reports of casualties.    
The shelling was the first report of Turkish bombardment in Kurdistan since September 29, when the PKK said Turkish warplanes carried out strikes in the region.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, himself a Kurd, said during a visit to Ankara this month that the presence of Kurdish rebels in the north was "unacceptable," but stopped short of offering a solution.

Turkey's parliament overwhelmingly voted on October 5 to extend the government's mandate to order military strikes against Kurdish rebels in neighbouring Iraq for one more year.

Since 2007, Turkey has renewed the motion giving a green light for the Turkish military to conduct cross-border raids to hit PKK hideouts in northern Iraq. The current authorisation was to expire on October 17.

Since August 17, Turkish jets repeatedly carried out air strikes against the Kurdish PKK separatist group's bases in Iraqi Kurdistan region, under justification of chasing elements of the anti-Ankara PKK, forcing large numbers of Kurdish citizens of those areas to desert their home villages, including an air raid that killed 7 Kurdish civilians in a village north of Kurdistan’s Sulaimaniyah city on August 21st.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

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