ANKARA, Turkey — Five Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes with Kurdish militants in northern Iraq on Tuesday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said. Two other soldiers were injured 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 last month launched its latest offensive, dubbed Operation Claw Lock, in the Metina, Zap and Avashin-Basyan regions of northern Iraq.
The Defense Ministry did not provide information on Tuesday’s clashes.
The deaths bring the number of Turkish soldiers killed in the latest offensive to 17, according to an Associated Press tally. Turkey maintains that dozens of PKK militants were killed during the operation, but the deaths cannot be independently verified.
Turkey has conducted numerous cross-border air and ground operations against the PKK in northern Iraq over the past decades. Its army has also carried out several incursions into Syria to push Syrian Kurdish fighters – which Ankara sees as an extension of the PKK – away from its borders.
The PKK has fought Turkey for Kurdish autonomy in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984. The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.