DIYARBAKIR - Turkish soldiers have killed 18 Kurdish rebels in two days in an offensive involving over 2,000 troops, as well as by F-16 fighter jets operating on both sides of the Turkey-Iraq border, security sources said on Friday.

The operation against separatist rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) began on Wednesday night in Sirnak, a southeasterly province bordering Iraq and Syria and the site of frequent clashes between rebels and Turkish troops.

The summer has been one of the bloodiest in Turkey since the PKK took up arms against the state in 1984 with the aim of carving out a Kurdish state.

"Eighteen PKK members have been killed. The intense operation is continuing," security sources told Reuters.

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