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Wednesday, August 5, 1998 Published at 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK

World: Middle East

Turkish army takes on Kurdish rebels

Kurdish minorities are spread throughout Europe and the Middle East

Chris Morris reports from Ankara on the latest Turkish operation against Kurdish rebels:

The fighting has been taking place in a remote mountainous region near the Iraqi border.

It is impossible to get any independent confirmation of the casualty figures, but it is rare for the Turkish army to quote such a high number.

Members of the Kurdish rebel movement, the PKK, apparently launched rocket attacks on army positions in the province of Sirnak on Monday.

The Turkish armed forces responded with a large ground operation backed by aerial support. It is a vital strategic region, in which Turkey is trying to prevent infiltration by the PKK from their camps in isolated areas of northern Iraq.

There have been numerous reports of military clashes along the borders with both Iraq and Iran in the last few weeks, but this appears to be the biggest so far.

Earlier this year the military high command in Ankara announced once again that the war was all but over, and the PKK had been contained if not defeated.

But fighting has continued unabated, with the two sides giving very different versions about who is coming out on top.

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