Ankara, Turkey (BBN)-Turkey’s air force has attacked Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria and Kurdish PKK militants in northern Iraq to defend the country’s security, Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu says.
Mr Davutoglu added that 590 suspected IS and PKK members had been arrested, reports BBC.
This follows a week which saw a bomb attack blamed on IS kill 32 people in the Turkish town of Suruc.
Subsequent clashes with IS fighters on the Turkey-Syria border led to the death of a Turkish soldier.
The PKK’s military wing said it had killed two Turkish police officers on Wednesday, claiming they had collaborated with IS in the bombing in Suruc, which targeted left-wing activists.
US White House spokesman Alistair Baskey said Turkey had the right to defend itself against terrorist attacks by Kurdish rebels and urged the PKK to renounce terrorism.
But he said that Ankara should also avoid violence towards the PKK and seek to de-escalate the conflict.
A government statement on Saturday morning said the air force had hit PKK shelters, bunkers, storage facilities and other “logistic points” in northern Iraq, including the Qandil mountains where the PKK’s high command is based.
It did not give details of what the jets had targeted in their attacks on IS in Syria.
Turkey’s military had also shelled Islamic State and PKK positions from across the Turkish border, the statement said.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Prime Minister Davutoglu said: “Unfortunately Turkey is surrounded by a ring of fire.
“In such an atmosphere, Turkey tries to keep her democracy and development alive… these operations have carried a message to the countries in the region and to international circles: whatever happens in Syria and Iraq, in our border regions, we will not allow them to threaten Turkey’s security and will not hesitate to take necessary measures.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said areas of northern Syria cleared of IS fighters would become natural “safe zones”.
Turkey has also said it will let the US use a key airbase to attack IS targets.
Separately the Turkish authorities have banned a peace march due to take place in Istanbul on Sunday, expressing concern about possible “provocative action” and “dense traffic”.
The overnight air strikes in northern Iraq were the first time Turkey had attacked the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) since a 2013 truce.
The group has been fighting Turkey for an autonomous homeland for the Kurds for decades.
In a statement on its website quoted by Reuters news agency, the PKK said: “The truce has no meaning any more after these intense air strikes by the occupant Turkish army.”
The Turkish government has faced criticism at home and abroad for not doing enough against IS, despite being part of the international coalition fighting it.
The first round of anti-IS air strikes on Friday marked the first time Turkey had confirmed air strikes against targets in Syria since IS began its advance through Iraq and Syria in 2013.
The agreement to let the US use the Incirlik airbase, following months of negotiations, was made in a phone call between President Barack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – but has yet to be approved by the Turkish cabinet.
It could allow the US to step up air strikes against IS, as it is closer to northern Syria and Iraq than the Gulf, which currently serves as a launch-pad for bombing missions.
The US military is more than familiar with the southern Turkish base, and its recent history is tied closely with recent US military operations.
During the first war against Iraq in 1990, US planes were stationed at the base
Humanitarian operations for Kurdish refugees flew out of Incirlik after the war
The base also served as the main hub for operations at the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001
It acted as the first stop on the way home for thousands of US troops leaving Iraq after the 2003 invasion
Wikileaks claimed the US and Turkey allowed the base to be used to launch rendition flights for terror suspects