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11 soldiers 'killed in Turkey clashes'

Published 03/09/2016

Soldiers have reportedly been killed and 28 wounded in Turkey during clashes with Kurdish militants
Soldiers have reportedly been killed and 28 wounded in Turkey during clashes with Kurdish militants

Eleven soldiers have reportedly been killed and 28 wounded in Turkey's east and south east during clashes with Kurdish militants.

The casualties come from separate military operations in the provinces of Hakkari and Van against members of the "separatist terror organisation" - Turkey's description of the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK. Turkey, the EU and US consider the PKK a terrorist organisation.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said three soldiers were killed and 20 wounded with three in critical condition in Hakkari this morning. A Turkish Armed Forces statement said 33 Kurdish militants were killed and 30 wounded in the ongoing operations.

In a statement, the governor's office of Van said eight soldiers were killed and eight wounded in operations on Friday around Tendurek Mountain. The Turkish Armed Forces statement said 13 militants were "neutralised" in operations which Anadolu described as three airstrikes.

A precarious two and a half year ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK collapsed last summer, resuming the three-decade conflict that has killed an estimated 40,000 people.

Since fighting resumed, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed. Rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also been killed in the clashes and tens of thousands displaced.

Turkey sent tanks across the border to Syria last month to support Free Syrian Army rebels in capturing Jarablus from the Islamic State group. The cross-border operation also aims to stall the Syrian Kurdish militants from seizing more ground in northern Syria.

Turkey contends that the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG in Syria are an extension of the PKK.

Before departing to China on Friday, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "The Western world has to make a decision. Either you are standing with terror and terrorism, or you are standing against terrorism."

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From Belfast Telegraph