WASHINGTON - A US Predator drone operation that gathers intelligence to help Turkey in its struggle with Kurdish militants in northern Iraq has shifted its base to southern Turkey from Iraq, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday.

The mission, which involves four US Predator unmanned aircraft, was moved to Incirlik air base at Turkey's request since all US forces are being withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year, Captain John Kirby said.

The drones have been flying reconnaissance missions against the PKK - the Kurdistan Workers Party - from Incirlik for a couple of weeks, he said.

But Kirby declined to discuss where the aircraft was conducting surveillance and whether the drones were still flying across the frontier into northern Iraq.

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