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Ten Kurdish militants killed in Turkey

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ANKARA, March 13 (RIA Novosti) - Turkish troops have killed 10 militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in clashes near the Iraqi border, the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces said on Thursday.

It also said a large amount of weapons and explosives had been seized during the operation, which took place in the southeast Sirnak province.

According to media reports, the military operation, which involved over 300 troops and some 100 members of non-governmental self-defense forces, was launched after a Heron unmanned aerial vehicle had spotted a guerrilla group in the province.

Turkey launched a large-scale ground operation targeting Kurdish insurgents in the north of Iraq in late February.

The PKK, listed by the U.S., NATO and the EU as a terrorist organization, has been fighting for an autonomous ethnic Kurd state in southeast Turkey for nearly 25 years. The conflict has so far claimed about 40,000 lives.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Turkish separatist Kurds have received increasing, if unacknowledged, support from their countrymen living in oil-rich northern Iraq.

Ethnic Kurds are also seeking autonomy in eastern parts of Syria.

Turkish authorities have consistently refused to enter into a dialogue with Kurdish separatists.

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