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Turkey: 'Kurdish rebels killed in northern Iraq'

  • Story Highlights
  • Turkey: At least 15 rebels in operations in northern Iraq earlier this week
  • Says Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members trying to get into Turkey
  • Iraqi Kurdish Regional Security Forces denies the report, says no operation
  • PKK, labeled a terrorist group by U.S., EU, has attacked Turkey from N Iraq
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(CNN) -- Turkey's military said it killed at least 15 rebels in operations in northern Iraq earlier this week, but a spokesman for the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Security Forces denied the report, saying Turkey has not conducted any military operation or air assault there in the past two weeks.

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Turkish troops patrol near the border with Iraq during an offensive in February.

A statement posted on the Turkish armed forces' official Web site said a group of PKK, or members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, was identified in northern Iraq, and said the group was believed to be planning an attack and trying to leak through the border into Turkey.

The PKK, labeled a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, is comprised of militants who have been launching attacks against Turkey from bases in northern Iraq.

The Turkish military said the PKK group "came under fire by long-range weapons" on Thursday, and 15 terrorists were killed.

The same region was targeted by a Turkish air assault on Friday, the military said, adding that the number of casualties was not yet available.

"In the missions, only the places that were confirmed to belong to the terrorist group were targeted," the military statement said. "Turkish armed forces acted with utmost sensitivity in order to avoid any negative impact of the strikes on the civilians in the region."

However, Jabbar Yawer, a spokesman for the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Forces, said no air assault was conducted Thursday or Friday, and added that no operations have been conducted in northern Iraq for the past two weeks.

The PKK has spent two decades fighting for autonomy for Kurds in southeastern Turkey, with some of its attacks launched from inside Video Iraq ». The Iraqi government opposes the PKK's presence, but views a Turkish military incursion as a violation of its sovereignty. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN Turk's Begum Donmez and CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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