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Turkish planes hit Iraqi Kurdish villages

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  • Turkish aircraft strike Kurdish villages in northern Iraq, Iraqi official says
  • Official says there were no casualties in deserted villages
  • Attack is the latest in a series by Turkey in Iraq's Kurdish region
  • Kurdish militants have been launching cross-border attacks on Turkey from Iraq
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Turkish aircraft bombed two Kurdish villages inside northern Iraq on Wednesday, a spokesman for Iraqi Kurdish regional security forces said.

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Massoud Barzani, left, head of Iraq's Kurdish regional government, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

The spokesman, Jabbar Yawar, said the bombing lasted about an hour on the deserted villages of Rikan and Nirva. Yawar said there were no civilian casualties.

The attack comes a day after Turkey's military said it killed between 150 and 175 Kurdish militants and maybe more in strikes this month in northern Iraq.

Last week, Turkey's ambassador to the United States, Nabi Sensoy, said Turkish maneuvers against Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq were based on intelligence the United States had provided.

President Bush has vowed to help Turkey fight rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has been launching cross-border attacks against Turkey from Iraq.

The PKK has spent two decades fighting for autonomy for Kurds in southeastern Turkey. The United States and European Union consider the group a terrorist organization. Video Watch how the strikes are straining U.S. ties with two key allies »

On Tuesday, Turkish helicopters killed five Kurdish militants preparing an attack in southeastern Turkey. The action took place near Kupeli Mountain in Sirnak province. Troops seized the group's base of operations and confiscated weapons, cell phones and other supplies.

Turkish strikes dominated the conversation at a meeting Monday among Iraqi officials in the Kurdish region.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is Kurdish, and Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni Arab, met with Kurdish regional government President Massoud Barzani in Sulaimaniya.

Iraqi Kurdish officials, while critical of the PKK, have denounced the Turkish bombing campaign, and Barzani snubbed visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week in protest of the attacks.

The Turkish military, which said the targets were not civilian, disputed comments by an official at a briefing at the Sulaimaniya meeting that many civilians died during the strikes.

The Turks didn't identify the official, but Barzani said, "The bombing targeted safe and secure areas and innocent people. Several people were either killed or wounded."

Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a U.S. military spokesman, and Phil Reeker, counselor for public affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, couldn't say how many casualties were in the Turkish strikes.

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"We've made clear, of course, that we would be concerned about anything that leads to innocent civilian casualties or to destabilization in the north of Iraq," Reeker said at a press conference Wednesday.

"So, we will continue to watch the situation closely, and the U.S., Iraq and Turkey will continue to have a common interest in seeing that the activities of the PKK are ended." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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