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 Turkish jets strike Iraqi Kurdistan: PKK rebels

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Turkish jets strike Iraqi Kurdistan: PKK rebels  15.3.2012  
By staff writers

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.
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March 15, 2012

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — A Kurdish rebel group said on Wednesday that Turkey's air force carried out strikes on border areas with Iraqi Kurdistan where it maintains rear bases, but gave no details about casualties or damage.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) also claimed a March 1 bombing in Istanbul that wounded 16 people, nearly all of them police officers, in an attack near the headquarters of Turkey's ruling party.

"On March 13, between 9:00 pm (1800 GMT) and 10:30 pm (1930 GMT), Turkish combat aircraft started air raids and bombings" against areas in Duhok, Iraq's northernmost province and part of the country's autonomous Kurdistan region, the PKK said in a statement.

The strikes followed March 8 bombings on nearby areas, according to the PKK. It has given no details of casualties in either instance.

The March 8 strikes were the first reported raids in around a month on north Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, where the PKK maintains rear bases.

Fighting between Turkish forces and PKK rebels has escalated in recent months.

The PKK in its latest statement claimed a March 1 attack that saw a remote-controlled explosive fitted to a stationary motorcycle set off close to the offices of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party.

"This operation came after the military and political cleanse which is being continued by the Turkish government," the PKK statement said. "Its aim is a genocide against our people and forces."

In October, Turkey launched a major air and land offensive against the rebels in the southeast of the country and in neighbouring northern Iraq after 24 of its troops were killed in a night-time ambush by rebels.

In December, Turkish air strikes killed 34 Kurdish civilians near the Iraqi Kurdistan border in an attack which the government said had been a military blunder, as commanders had mistaken them for PKK fighters.

Since August 2011, Turkish jets repeatedly carried out air strikes against the Kurdish PKK separatist group's bases in Iraqi Kurdish 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 21, 2011.

The president of Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan Massoud Barzani said on November 4, 2011 in Ankara, that he opposes Turkey’s military campaign against Kurdish PKK rebels in northern Iraq as it will fail to permanently end the conflict.

“Honestly, I disapprove of all these operations ... I don’t think that one can achieve the result with the military option”, Barzani told the Hurriyet newspaper.

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. 

Sources: AFP | Reuters | | Agencies

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