Turkey Sends Ground Forces Into Iraq After PKK Bombings

Turkey Soldiers
Turkish soldiers stand guard near the Mursitpinar border gate in Suruc, bordering with the northern Kurdish town of Kobani, in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 26. Turkey announced on Tuesday that it has deployed special forces in Iraq. Murad Sezer/Reuters

Turkey has deployed special forces in Iraq in a ground operation to target Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants after a deadly bomb attack killed 14 Turkish police officers on Tuesday, Turkey's Dogan news agency reported.

Two special forces units, with the support of Turkish military jets, have been dispatched to find two groups of 20 Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, according to the agency. The ground operation is the first by Turkish forces since a ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government began two years ago.

Tuesday's roadside bomb killed the policemen in the eastern province of Igdir and came after Turkey carried out air raids on the group's positions. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutolu vowed to "wipe out" the Kurdish militants in reaction to the attack. The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

"Turkish security forces crossed the Iraqi border as part of the hot pursuit of PKK terrorists who were involved in the most recent attacks," a Turkish government source told AFP news agency. "This is a short-term measure intended to prevent the terrorists' escape," he added.

In response to an earlier PKK bomb attack that killed 16 Turkish soldiers near the Iraqi border on Sunday, 40 Turkish jets struck PKK positions overnight on Monday in northern Iraq. The bombing was the deadliest attack by the PKK against Turkish authorities since the two-year ceasefire between the group and the Turkish government came to an end in July.

The Kurdish militant group has stepped up its attacks against Turkish authorities and made the accusation that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutolu's ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party has "supported and cultivated" ISIS as a weapon to use against the country's Kurdish population.

The PKK holds the Turkish government responsible for the deadly suicide bombing in the town of Suruc on the Turkish border in July that killed 32 Kurdish activists heading to the Syrian-Kurdish city of Kobane. The Turkish government blamed ISIS for the attack.

In the Turkish parliamentary elections in April, President Recep Tayyip Erdoan breached a neutrality clause in the constitution by campaigning against the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). The party entered parliament in the elections after exceeding the 10 percent threshold, in a landmark vote.

Following Sunday's bomb blast, anti-Kurdish feeling has swept across Turkey's cities with nationalist protesters attacking over 100 offices of the HDP in a number of different towns and cities overnight, Turkish news outlet Today's Zaman reported.

The PKK has killed almost 40,000 people in its insurgency against Ankara since 1984. The group seeks self-determination for the Kurds in Turkey. A ceasefire had been observed between the two sides since the end of October 2012 at the behest of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Turkey Sends Ground Forces Into Iraq After PKK Bombings | World