News / Middle East

Erdogan: Turkey-Iran to Continue Efforts Against Kurdish Rebels

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the 66th UN General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York, September  22,  2011.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the 66th UN General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York, September 22, 2011.

Turkey's prime minister says cross-border military operations will continue against Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq, confirming that Ankara is cooperating with Iran against members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that joint military operations with Iran against PKK rebels will no longer be postponed. Both countries already are sharing intelligence.

It was not immediately clear if Turkey and Iran are planning a risky ground offensive against the main Kurdish rebel base, located deep in the Qandil mountains near the Iranian border.

The PKK has been waging a war for autonomy in Turkey's southeast from bases in northern Iraq. The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, a banned PKK offshoot, also uses Qandil as a springboard for attacks on Iranian territory.

Iranian artillery units often fire at Qandil, and Turkish warplanes stage bombing raids against suspected rebel bases there.

Turkey already has been pressing the U.S.-backed Iraqi government to clamp down on Kurdish guerrillas who use Iraq as a base. Ankara and Tehran fear Kurdish success in creating an autonomous region in northern Iraq encourages their own Kurdish minorities.

PKK rebels attacked a Turkish army outpost on Saturday, killing six soldiers and wounding 11.

Last week, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani urged Turkey and Iran to stop bombing northern Iraq's Kurdistan region.

In comments Friday to the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Talabani said the bombing is victimizing many civilians. He called on Turkey and Iran to use diplomacy and dialogue to ease tensions with Kurdish rebels.

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