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Turkey: Air Strikes Killed 35 Civilians, 'Not Terrorists'


Locals gather in front of the bodies of people who were killed in an air strike in southeastern Turkey on December 29.

Locals gather in front of the bodies of people who were killed in an air strike in southeastern Turkey on December 29.

A Turkish official has confirmed that 35 people killed in air strikes overnight were civilians.

Ruling party spokesman Huseyin Celik said the victims "were not terrorists," but people who were smuggling goods into Turkey from Iraq.

Celik said officials were investigating possible intelligence failures that led to the strikes.

He also expressed regret for the deaths, and suggested the government would compensate the victims.

Earlier, officials said Turkish warplanes had targeted suspected militants in Kurdish areas in the southeast part of Turkey near the border with Iraq.

Southeastern Turkey has been a hotbed of resistance to Turkish rule for years, led by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Turkey regularly conducts military operations against the PKK.

The Turkish military said it launched the attack after drones identified a group of PKK guerrillas late on December 28.

It said there was information the guerrillas planned an attack on Turkish security bases in the area.

compiled from agency reports

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