ISTANBUL, Turkey – Turkey's military hit Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq with artillery and strikes by warplanes in a two-day operation that killed at least 15 rebels, the military said Saturday.
Turkish military shelled areas in northern Iraq on Thursday after it detected a group of Kurdish rebels preparing to attack Turkish targets from their bases in Iraq, the military said in a written statement. It said 15 rebels were killed in the shelling.
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Turkish warplanes hit rebel targets in a cross-border campaign the following day but it was unclear how many rebels, if any, were killed in that assault, the statement said.
"Some targets in the same area were hit by the Air Force's warplanes," the military said. "The number of terrorists killed in this air attack could not be determined."
Turkey is fighting rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which uses bases in the north of neighboring Iraq as a launch pad for attacks against targets inside Turkey.
Turkey, like the European Union and the United States, considers the PKK a terrorist organization.
Saturday's statement confirmed the first cross-border action by the military since its eight-day ground incursion, which ended on Feb. 29.
The military said it only hit confirmed rebel targets and that it did not harm civilians.
The U.S. has been sharing intelligence on the rebels with NATO-ally Turkey since November.
Turkey carried out several cross-border operations against the PKK since the parliament authorized the government last October to send troops into Iraq to fight the rebels.
Last month's operation was the only confirmed ground incursion during this period. It was also the first of its kind since the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq in 2003.
The PKK took up arms against the government in 1984, and tens of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting.