TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - "Forty nine terrorists were killed as a result of the Turkish Air Force's airstrikes targeting the separatist terrorist organization's [PKK] facilities in the northern Iraqi regions of region of Asos/Qandil, Zap, Avasin/Basyan and Hakurk on January 29," the Armed Forces' General Staff said in a statement seen by Sputnik.
Army's statement provides details of the strikes carried out by Ankara on Monday, when Turkish jets hit eight targets in northern Iraq, destroying shelters, hideouts and arsenals, belonging to militants, who were allegedly preparing to attack border posts.
The airstrikes were conducted amid Ankara's ongoing operation in Syrian Afrin, which is aimed at eliminating terrorists on the border with Syria, according to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who later also clarified that Ankara can extend its third military advance in Syria all the way east to the border with Iraq in a bid to clear borders from militants.
The Turkish military campaign in Afrin code-named Olive Branch was started after the US had announced its plans to train a 30,000-strong border force in northern Syria mostly from People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters, which are listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara. Turkey suspects the Kurdish YPG of ties with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been waging a violent armed conflict in the country trying to gain autonomy and is also designated as a terrorist group.
Tensions between the PKK and Ankara escalated in July 2015, leading to frequent acts of terror allegedly committed by the Kurdish militant group and regular anti-PKK operations by the Turkish government. According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, over 10,000 PKK members have been neutralized since the escalation of the conflict.