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Turkey Launches Operation Against Kurdish Rebels Near Iraq Border

Turkish officials say military troops have launched a fresh operation against Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey near the Iraqi border.

Officials Thursday said the troops, backed by helicopters, are scouring the mountains of Sirnak province for rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

The military said Wednesday that its troops had killed at least 11 PKK rebels in Sirnak in clashes this week.

There were no reports of any new cross-border raids, after Turkish warplanes bombed suspected PKK rebel hideouts in northern Iraq Wednesday.

In other news, Turkey's Constitutional Court today rejected prosecutors' demands to place restrictions on a pro-Kurdish political party while it faces a case against it for alleged ties to separatist rebels.

Turkish state media say the court ruled that members of the Democratic Society Party must be allowed to run for office and should not be barred from state funding.

Prosecutors last month asked the court to ban the party, accusing it of links to the PKK. The party has denied any links but has called for autonomy for the mainly Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey.

The Democratic Society Party has 20 seats in parliament.

Ankara has threatened to attack PKK bases in northern Iraq in response to a series of deadly ambushes by the group in southeastern Turkey in recent months. The Turkish parliament authorized cross-border operations against the group in October.

The PKK has been fighting for self-rule in southeastern Turkey since 1984. The conflict has killed more than 30,000 people.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist group.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.