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Three Turkish soldiers killed in northern Iraq

ANKARA, Turkey: At least three Turkish soldiers have been killed during a new offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, according to the Turkish defence ministry.

Turkey on Wednesday launched an operation, dubbed “Claw-Eagle 2”, against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters in the northern Iraqi region of Dohuk.

Two Turkish soldiers died and two others were wounded on Wednesday in clashes with the “terrorists” in the region of Gara, the defence ministry said.

Another soldier was killed on Thursday, said the ministry, without proving casualty figures for the PKK.

The PKK, listed as a “terrorist” group by Turkey and much of the international community, has for decades used Iraq’s mountainous areas as a springboard for its attacks against positions inside Turkey.

The Turkish army regularly conducts cross-border operations and air raids on PKK bases in northern Iraq.

It justifies the operations as being within its “legitimate” right to “self-defence”.

Last month, defence minister Hulusi Akar visited the Iraqi capital, Baghdad and the northern part of the country from where he said Turkey intended to eliminate PKK attacks to ensure border security and regional peace.

The PKK attacks against Turkish positions is believed to have killed tens of thousands of people since being launched in 1984.

After a peace process collapsed in 2015, ending a two-year ceasefire, the government said it would not return to talks with the group.

Since then, Turkey has regularly targeted the PKK in the predominantly Kurdish southeast and attacked the group’s positions in northern Iraq.