Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy says PKK terror group has for many years used northern Iraqi soil as launchpad to attack Turkey, leaving Ankara with no option other than military operation.

Turkish tanks are seen near Iraqi border on September 13, 2018.
Turkish tanks are seen near Iraqi border on September 13, 2018. (AA Archive)

Turkey will continue its anti-terror operations in northern Iraq's Sinjar region as long as terror groups exist there, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Saturday.

Hami Aksoy said PKK terror group has used Iraqi soil as a base to attack Turkey for many years, and "as a result of these attacks, tens of thousands of our people were killed."

"Activities of PKK terror group on Iraqi and Syrian soils have been a national security issue for Turkey," Aksoy said.

"These counter-terror operations will continue as long as Turkey's security needs require and terror organisations exist in Iraqi soils," he said.

The statement came a day after Turkish jets destroyed over 30 terror targets in northern Iraq in an overnight operation.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK –– listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU –– has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children. 

The YPG is its Syrian branch.

Air strikes in northern Iraq continue

Turkish army "neutralised" a total of 20 PKK terrorists in airstrikes carried out in northern Iraq, the military said on Saturday.

Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralised" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

In a Twitter post, the Turkish General Staff said they conducted the airstrikes in Zap and Hakurk regions on December 14-15.

The terrorists were plotting attack on Turkish bases, it said.

It added that shelters and caves belonging to the group were also destroyed in the airstrikes.

Support to Iraq in fight against militants

Aksoy said that Turkey has repeatedly called on the Iraqi government to do its part to avert the activities of PKK terror group.

"Every kind of support is being given to Iraq in its fight against terror organisations. Same understanding and concrete cooperation are expected from Iraq," he said.

Aksoy said the Turkish military responds to attacks from Iraqi soil as part of its right of self-defence stipulated in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

On Thursday, the Turkish military dealt a heavy blow to the PKK terror group in Sinjar and Mount Karajak regions, Aksoy said.

He said the forces exercised due caution to prevent civilian casualties.

Source: AA