ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey and Iran have been carrying out coordinated strikes against Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq, a top general said Thursday in the first military confirmation of Iranian-Turkish cooperation in the fight against separatists there.
Gen. Ilker Basbug, Turkey's land forces commander, said the two countries have been sharing intelligence and planned more coordinated attacks in the future against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and PEJAK, the group's Iranian wing.
"We are sharing intelligence with Iran, we are talking, we are coordinating," CNN-Turk television quoted Basbug as telling reporters on the sidelines of a security conference in Istanbul.
"When they start an operation, we do, too," the general said. "They carry out an operation from the Iranian side of the border, we from the Turkish side."
The report did not give any details on the strikes or the targets. The general said no coordinated action had taken place in the past few months.
"We haven't done it in the past one or two months, but we can do it again," he said.
The PKK, which has bases in northern Iraq, has been fighting for self-rule in southeastern Turkey since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict. The main rebel camp is on Mount Qandil, which sits on the Iraqi-Iranian border.
Turkey and Iran both have shelled the area. Iran alleges that rebels from PEJAK, or the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan — which is fighting for Kurdish rights in Iran — also are based on Mount Qandil.
The Turkish military has launched air assaults on Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq in recent months. In February, it staged an eight-day, ground offensive that did not go as far as Qandil.
The United States has labeled the PKK a terrorist organization and supports Turkey's fight against the group by providing intelligence on the rebels.