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Barzani says, PKK terrorists must keep the battlefield away from the Iraqi Kurdistan

Turkey has carried out hundreds of raids against the Kurdish rebel group's mountain bases on either side of the Iraqi border

Baku. 1 August. REPORT.AZ/ Terrorists of the PKK should move out of Iraqi Kurdistan to prevent Turkish air strikes against them from causing casualties, the region's leadership said on Saturday.

"The PKK must keep the battlefield away from the Kurdistan region in order for civilians not to become victims of this war," Report informs citing Turkish media, the office of the region's president Massud Barzani said in a statement.

Turkey has carried out hundreds of raids against the Kurdish rebel group's mountain bases on either side of the Iraqi border.

The PKK itself has admitted to only a handful of deaths in its ranks but the official Turkish news agency Anatolia on Saturday put the figure at around 260.

Several civilians have been killed and wounded in the air campaign, which Ankara launched a week ago following a wave of attacks in Turkey.

In the same statement, Barzani also urged the PKK and the Turkish government to resume a peace process which the recent violence has all but shattered.

"The Kurdistan presidency is clear in demanding that the PKK keep its military bases away from the region in order not to give the Turkish government any justification when it bombs civilians," Kifah Mahmud, a Barzani adviser, told AFP.

"The region's presidency has asked the PKK to take its forces out, especially since there is an agreement between the Iraqi and Turkish governments allowing Turkish forces to enter the Iraqi side."

Ankara and Baghdad signed a "hot pursuit" agreement in the era of now executed dictator Saddam Hussein, allowing both sides to hunt down Kurdish rebels 15 kilometres (10 miles) into each other's territory.

Mahmud said the agreement was still valid.

Barzani's party has enjoyed good relations with Turkey, a major investor and trading partner for the autonomous region.

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