US military presence in Middle East amid conflicts
Fox News chief national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin has the latest on the geopolitical conflicts on ‘Special Report.’
Turkey carried out a series of airstrikes in neighboring Iraq and Syria on Saturday, according to its defense ministry. The strikes come as the U.S and other countries launched separate strikes in Yemen on Friday and Saturday.
According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, aircraft struck Kurdish militant targets in Metina, Hakurk, Gara and Qandil in northern Iraq. The strikes were in response to an attack on a Turkish military base in Iraq that left nine Turkish soldiers dead.
The defense ministry said fighter jets destroyed caves, bunkers, shelters and oil facilities “to eliminate terrorist attacks against our people and security forces … and to ensure our border security.” The statement said “many” militants were “neutralized.” It did not specify any attacks in Syria.
The targets were affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a banned Kurdish separatist group that maintains bases in northern Iraq, the ministry said. The PKK is considered a terror organization by the United States and other Turkish allies in Europe.
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Turkish Air Forces’ aerobatic demonstration team ‘Turkish Stars’ and ‘Celik Kanatlar’ perform a demonstration flight to commemorate the fallen Turkish soldiers of the World War I Battle of Sarikamis during the 109th anniversary of the Sarikamis Operation in Kars, Turkiye on January 07, 2024. (Hilmi Tunahan Karakaya/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Local news organizations reported the strikes took place in a different area from where the base was attacked on Friday.
The Iraqi news website Rudaw, based in Erbil, reported that the base attacked on Friday was located on Mount Zap in Amedi district, approximately 10 miles from the Turkish border.
KARS, TURKIYE – JANUARY 07: Turkish Air Forces’ aerobatic demonstration team ‘Turkish Stars’ and ‘Celik Kanatlar’ perform a demonstration flight to commemorate the fallen Turkish soldiers of the World War I Battle of Sarikamis during the 109th anniversary of the Sarikamis Operation in Kars, Turkiye on January 07, 2024. (Omer Tarsuslu/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu said a senior PKK militant was “neutralized” in Iraq, some 100 miles inside the Turkey-Iraq border.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said Friday night’s attack on the military base in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, left five soldiers dead. Four additional soldiers died later of critical injuries. Fifteen militants were also killed during the assault, the ministry said.
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MUGLA, TURKEY – JANUARY 12: A military helicopter takes part in the press stage of Türkiye’s military exercise Sea Wolf (Denizkurdu) in Mugla, Türkiye on January 12, 2024. (Orhan Cicek/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan expressed his condolences for the deaths of the Turkish soldiers on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
“We will fight to the end against the PKK terrorist organization within and outside our borders,” he wrote. Turkey often launches strikes against targets it believes to be affiliated with the PKK.
Previously, Turkish officials said PKK-affiliated militants tried to break into a Turkish base in northern Iraq three weeks ago. The attack left six Turkish soldiers dead. The following day, six more Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes.
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The Turkish military responded to the attacks by launching airstrikes and land assaults that left dozens of Kurdish militants dead, Defense Minister Yasar Guler said at the time.
This picture shows smoke plumes rising in a field following reported Turkish drone strikes near the town of al-Qahtaniyah in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province, close to the border with Turkey, on November 23, 2022. (GIHAD DARWISH/AFP via Getty Images)
Tensions throughout the Middle East have escalated since the Israel-Hamas war started in October.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.