Turkey warplanes 'kill 25 rebels' in northern Iraq

Turkish soldiers march after a religious funeral for an army officer killed in fighting against Kurdish rebels in eastern Turkish city of Hakkari at Turkey-Iraq border, in Ankara, Turkey, on 29 August Intensified fighting between Turkish forces and rebels has claimed hundreds of lives over recent months

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The Turkish military says it killed 25 Kurdish rebels during a recent offensive in northern Iraq.

Warplanes hit 14 rebel hideouts in the cross-border strikes from 5 to 9 September, it said in a statement.

Clashes between soldiers and rebels have killed 461 people in south-east Turkey this year, the military said separately according to local media.

Fighting between the army and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels in the region has escalated in the past year.

The army has mounted hundreds of operations in a bid to drive out the rebels.

'Rendered ineffective'

Several thousand rebels are believed to be based in northern Iraq, and the Turkish military regularly violates Iraqi airspace to target them.

"Initial data" suggest 25 terrorists were "rendered ineffective" in the recent air operation in northern Iraq, AFP news agency quoted the Turkish military as saying.

The PKK has been fighting for an ethnic homeland in south-eastern Turkey since 1984. It is classified as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and EU.

Of the 461 people the army says have died in south-east Turkey this year, 88 - about a fifth of the total - were soldiers killed over the past nine months, AFP quoted local TV network NTV as saying.

Some 373 rebels were killed over five months.

NTV quoted the army as saying the Turkish military operations were focused on four south-eastern cities of Hakkari, Tunceli, Siirt and Sirnak.

In a two-week period from the end of July alone, the interior minister said at least 115 rebels died in Hakkari province.

And just a week ago, 10 members of Turkish security forces were killed in a rebel attack in Sirnak province, officials said.

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