Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Saturday, 3 May 2008 16:45 UK

Turkey 'kills 150 Kurdish rebels'

map of Turkey

Turkish air strikes in northern Iraq this week left more than 150 Kurdish rebels dead, the Turkish army says.

"According to initial estimates, this operation allowed us to neutralise more than 150 terrorists," the army said in a statement on its website.

A PKK spokesman said that only six rebels were killed and they were from a different faction.

Turkey has staged several cross-border raids into northern Iraq over the past few months in pursuit of the rebels.

The strikes, which began on Thursday and ended on Friday, were carried out against PKK guerrillas based in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq, the Turkish army says.

All targeted posts in Qandil area were destroyed during the operation, according to the Turkish army's statement.

But a PKK spokesman, Ahmed Danees, told the Reuters news agency only six rebels died and they were from a faction fighting against Iran.

The Turkish parliament authorised cross-border operations against the PKK late last year.

It has accused Iraq of failing to stop the PKK - who are fighting for greater autonomy in south-eastern Turkey - from using its northern areas as a safe haven.

In February, Ankara launched a week-long ground offensive in northern Iraq which, it said, targeted bases used by up to 3,000 Kurdish rebels as a spring-board for attacks across the border.

The PKK is branded a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and EU.

More than 30,000 people have been killed since it began its armed campaign in 1984.

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