Iraqi Kurds warn PKK amid Turkey air strikes

image copyrightAFP
image captionThe PKK has long had a presence in northern Iraq

Iraq's Kurdistan region has urged Turkish Kurd separatist forces of the PKK to leave civilian areas amid continuing Turkish air strikes.

The call follows reports that civilians have been killed in Turkish raids on PKK targets which resumed a week ago.

Turkey's official news agency says about 260 Kurdish fighters have been killed in strikes in northern Iraq and Turkey itself since then.

The PKK has not released any casualty figures.

Turkey has carried out hundreds of raids on the rebel group's bases on both sides of the Iraq-Turkey border.

At the same time, it is bombing Islamic State militants in Syria in an effort to push them back from Turkey's borders. Turkey had not previously been involved in fighting in Syria's conflict.

'Keep battlefield away'

Further Turkish air raids were reported overnight, this time in the Rawanduz area east of Erbil, capital of Iraq's Kurdish region.

At least six people were killed and several more wounded in the town of Zarkel, local officials said. They reportedly included at least two women.

An Iraq-based PKK activist told Associated Press that at least six homes were destroyed and eight civilians were killed.

"We condemn this bombardment that led to the martyrdom of people from the Kurdistan region and call on Turkey not to bombard civilians again," Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said in a statement.

image copyrightAP
image captionThe past week has seen a series of deadly attacks inside Turkey blamed on the PKK

Urging the PKK to withdraw its fighters from civilian areas in the region, he said the separatists "must keep the battlefield away from the Kurdistan region in order for civilians not to become victims of this war".

The statement also called on the Turkish government and the PKK to resume peace talks.

The strikes against PKK camps in northern Iraq, which began last week, were the first since March 2013, when a ceasefire was called.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that it was "not possible to continue the peace process with those who threaten our national unity and brotherhood".

Turkey and a number of Western countries regard the PKK as a terrorist organisation.

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