ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Five Turkish soldiers were killed Tuesday in clashes with Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, Turkey’s defense ministry said. Two other soldiers were wounded in the fighting.
The clashes took place during Turkey’s latest cross-border offensive against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which maintains bases in northern Iraq. Turkey launched its latest offensive, named Operation Claw Lock last month in northern Iraq’s Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan regions.
The defense ministry didn’t provide information on Tuesday’s clashes.
The fatalities raises the number of Turkish soldiers killed in the latest offensive to 17, according to a count by The Associated Press. Turkey maintains that dozens of PKK militants were killed during the operation but the deaths can’t be independently verified.
Turkey has conducted numerous cross-border aerial and ground operations against the PKK in northern Iraq over the past decades. Its military has also conducted several incursions in Syria to push Syrian Kurdish fighters — who Ankara views as an extension of the PKK — away from its borders.
The PKK has fought Turkey for autonomy for Kurds in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984. The group is listed as a terror organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.