Turkey, Iran launch joint raid against Kurdish rebels – minister
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Turkey, Iran launch joint raid against Kurdish rebels – minister

Military operation begins on Turkey’s eastern border with Iraq and Iran, where Kurds have been seeking independence

In this Jan. 29, 2015 file photo, a fighter of the Turkey-based Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) uses his binoculars to look towards the Islamic State Group's base in the city of Sinjar, northern Iraq. (AP /Bram Janssen)
In this Jan. 29, 2015 file photo, a fighter of the Turkey-based Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) uses his binoculars to look towards the Islamic State Group's base in the city of Sinjar, northern Iraq. (AP /Bram Janssen)

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey and Iran on Monday started a joint military operation against Kurdish rebels on Turkey’s eastern border, state-run Anadolu news agency quoted the interior minister as saying.

Turkey has recently talked about a possible joint operation with neighbor Iran to counter outlawed militants from the the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but this is the first time Turkish authorities have confirmed a raid.

“We started staging a joint operation with Iran against the PKK on our eastern border as of 0800 (0500 GMT) this morning,” Suleyman Soylu said of the operation against the PKK, listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

“We will announce the result later,” he said.

An Iranian missile launches toward a military base belonging to a Kurdish separatist group in Iraq on September 8, 2018. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Soylu did not specify precisely which PKK bases the planned operation targeted, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in the past said it would be against militant hideouts in Iraq.

The Turkish military has often bombed PKK bases in Iraq’s mountainous northern regions as part of its decades-long operations against the group.

Iranian security forces have also fought the PKK affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). Both groups have rear bases in neighboring Iraq.

The PKK has waged a three-and-a-half decade insurgency against the Turkish state, initially seeking independence and more recently autonomy for Turkey’s Kurdish minority. Fighting has left tens of thousands dead.

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