Turkish warplanes bomb Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq

Turkish warplanes bombed 16 Kurdish rebel targets in neighbouring northern Iraq on Thursday, the latest in a series of air strikes targeting the region since December, the Turkish army said.

"Fighter jets hit 16 targets," of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the Khakurk region in the raid, the general staff said on its Internet site, adding that the strike began at 11am (0800 GMT).

Damage assessment was underway after what the army said was a "successful" operation.

Thursday's raid was the third Turkish air strike this month in the Kurdish-run north of Iraq where Ankara says more than 2,000 PKK rebels are holed up.

A first strike on May 1-2 targeted the Qandil mountains, a major PKK stronghold along the Iraqi-Iranian border and killed more than 150 PKK rebels, according to the army.

A second strike on May 1O - a day after a deadly PKK attack on a Turkish military outpost - destroyed several rebel facilities in the Avashin-Basyan region and left many rebels dead, it said.

Aided by US intelligence, Turkey has carried out several air strikes against rebels in northern Iraq since mid-December under a one-year parliamentary authorisation for such action that expires in October.

In February, troops also carried out a one-week incursion into the region against a major PKK camp close to the border, killing more than 200 rebels.

Listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, the PKK has been fighting for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984. The conflict has claimed more than 37,000 lives.