Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 September 2019

Three Turkish soldiers killed in northern Iraq

The Turkish military is battling Kurdish militants in the Qandil mountains

A group of armed Kurdish fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. AP 
A group of armed Kurdish fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. AP 

Turkey's official news agency reported on Sunday that three Turkish soldiers were killed in northern Iraq in clashes with Kurdish militants.

Anadolu Agency, citing the Turkish Defence Ministry, said another seven soldiers were wounded and admitted to hospital.

Turkey launched the "Claw" operation in May into mountainous northern Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The offensive entered its third phase on Friday, in which troops aim to destroy PKK caves and shelters in the Sinat-Haftanin region.

The PKK began an insurgency against Turkey in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast in 1984, and the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people. Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the group, based in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq, a terror organisation.

On Monday, Turkey removed three pro-Kurdish party mayors in cities in the country’s southeast over alleged links to the PKK.

The elected mayors of Diyarbakir, Van and Mardin, all in the predominantly Kurdish part of Turkey, were relieved of their duties, with state-appointed governors temporarily taking over their posts, a statement from the Interior Ministry said.

“The mayors, who evidence shows are in contact with terrorist organisations and support terrorist organisations, have been removed from office,” the statement said.

Riot police fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters demonstrating in southeast Turkey on Tuesday against their ousting five months after they were elected.

Ankara replaced the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) mayors with state officials on Monday and detained more than 400 people for suspected militant links in a step sharply criticised by opposition parties.

In Diyarbakir, the region's biggest city, police repeatedly used water cannon on small groups of protesters, who huddled on the streets to protect themselves from the water cannon and made victory signs with their hands.

Updated: August 25, 2019 07:57 PM

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