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Turkish Military: 153 Kurdish Rebels Killed in Northern Iraq


The Turkish military says it has killed 153 separatist Kurdish rebels since launching an air and ground offensive in northern Iraq last week.

The military announced Monday that 41 rebels were killed in recent clashes, and another 112 PKK rebels died in earlier assaults. The military said 17 of its soldiers have died in the offensive.

PKK rebels have not confirmed the numbers.

Turkish fighter jets and artillery have been pounding northern Iraq since Thursday, to support ground troops battling the rebels in the mountainous border region.

The White House Monday said the United States hopes the incursion will be short and will be narrowly targeted to hit only the PKK.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul postponed a trip to Africa this week because of the operation.

Turkey says the offensive is intended to stop PKK rebels from attacking Turkish civilians.

But local Kurdish leaders have expressed concern that Turkish forces are destroying infrastructure, which they say suggests Ankara is trying to broaden the conflict.

Iraq's government says Turkey's military action threatens Iraq's sovereignty. Baghdad is urging a troop withdrawal "as soon as possible."

The PKK has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984. More than 30,000 people have died in the violence.

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

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