A senior Turkish diplomat says U.S. intelligence shared with Turkey led to recent raids inside northern Iraq against Kurdish rebels from the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK. From Washington, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.
Turkey's Ambassador to Washington, Nabi ?ensoy, told reporters Wednesday that about 50 Turkish fighter planes were involved in two waves of air strikes early Sunday morning against PKK targets inside northern Iraq.
"As a result there is heavy damage to the infrastructure of PKK presence in the Qandil Mountains and in the [PKK] camps along the Turkish border," he said.
Ambassador Sensoy said the success of the attack was due to the intelligence the United States shared with Turkey, but he would not confirm if or when U.S. military officials were informed of the strikes.
The White House said Tuesday the United States continues to share intelligence on the PKK with both Turkey and Iraq. But officials refused comment on reports that U.S. intelligence helped Turkish authorities target the PKK.
Iraq's parliament has condemned the attacks. An Iraqi government spokesman called the airstrike "unacceptable" and warned it would lead to "complicated problems." Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq went further, saying the attack was a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and they accused the U.S. of approving it because it controls Iraq's airspace.
Relations between the United States and Turkey have been strained in recent months over the PKK and other issues, but Ambassador Sensoy says they have improved following Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Washington in early November. He says the intelligence sharing that led to Sunday's raid is the first tangible result of that renewed cooperation.
But the ambassador says this week's raids against the PKK are not likely to be the last.
"It was declared in the past that whatever necessary will be done," he said. "As I said, this is not a once and for all operation, but I think it has served its purpose, because of the fact that all of the targets have been hit with precision - that's what we know at this point. And the ultimate target is the elimination of the PKK terrorist organization in the north of the country, and Turkey will do whatever is necessary to achieve that."
Ambassador ?ensoy says Sunday's raid, and another small incursion on Tuesday, send a strong message to the PKK that the Turkish military is capable of tracking them down wherever they may be.