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Turkey bombs 'terrorist targets' in Iraq and Syria

Defence ministry says more than 50 PKK and YPG targets hit by air strikes after nine Turkish soldiers killed earlier in northern Iraq
Smokes billows in Qamishli in northeastern Syria close to the Turkish border on 25 December 2023, amid Turkish military strikes in the area (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

Turkey conducted overnight air strikes on more than 50 "terrorist targets" in northern Iraq and Syria after nine of its soldiers were killed in Iraq, the defence ministry said on Saturday.

"Air operations were carried out on terrorist targets in the regions of Metina, Hakurk, Gara and Qandil," the ministry said in a statement, according to AFP.

The nine Turkish soldiers were killed during clashes that followed an attempted intrusion at their military base near the northern Iraqi city of Metina, the ministry said, revising upward an earlier toll. Another four soldiers were wounded.

Turkey's armed forces said on Saturday evening that they had targeted 54 locations, including caves, bunkers, shelters and fuel dumps belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the YPG (People's Protection Units).

The YPG is a Syrian Kurdish militia which is a central element of US-allied forces in a coalition against Islamic State.

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Ankara has operated several dozen military posts in the area for the past 25 years in its decades-old war against the PKK, a group blacklisted by Turkey and many of its western allies as a terrorist organisation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held an emergency security meeting on Saturday in Istanbul to discuss the surge in attacks on troops in the region. The country's foreign, defence and interior ministers attended, as well as the head of the armed forces and the intelligence service.

Meanwhile, 113 people were arrested for suspected links with the PKK in nationwide raids on Saturday, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on X, formerly Twitter.

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