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49 Kurdish rebels killed in fighting, Turkey says

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish troops have killed at least 49 Kurdish rebels in a valley near the Iraqi border, the military said Saturday, as hundreds of troops also pursued Kurdish fighters within northern Iraq.

The rebels were killed in offensives in the past two days in the Kazan Valley region, near the town of Cukurca that borders Iraq, the military said in a statement posted on its website. There was no confirmation of the deaths from the rebel group.

On Wednesday, Turkey launched offensives against the rebels involving about 10,000 troops both in southeast Turkey and across the border in Iraq.

The military operations began hours after 24 soldiers were killed in Cukurca by the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in the deadliest one-day toll against the military since the 1990s.

Turkey's conflict with the Kurdish rebels has killed tens of thousands of people since the insurgents took up arms to fight for autonomy in the country's Kurdish-dominated southeast in 1984.

The military said it recovered the bodies of 35 rebels in the valley after it struck the area with artillery shells and airstrikes on Saturday. Seven other bodies were found inside a cave, while seven more rebels were killed in separate clashes in the region.

On Friday, the military said air and ground offensives were mostly concentrated within Turkey, in Cukurca, while operations were also under way "in a few areas" in northern Iraq.

Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper reported Saturday that Iraqi Kurdish security forces, the Peshmerga, were helping Turkish troops by providing intelligence.

Iraqi leaders have condemned the rebel attacks and promised to stop the PKK from using Iraqi territory for future attacks against Turkey.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said both Baghdad and the regional Kurdish government in northern Iraq "are committed to securing the borders."

49 Kurdish rebels killed in fighting, Turkey says 10/22/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 22, 2011 11:11pm]
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