Turkey warns it would strike PKK fighters inside Syria

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Syria of letting Turkey's Kurdish rebels operate inside the north of the country and warned that Ankara would not hesitate to strike against them.

"In the north, it (President Bashar al-Assad's regime) has allotted five provinces to the Kurds, to the terrorist organisation," Erdogan said on Turkish television late Wednesday, referring to the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).

He said the move was explicitly aimed against Turkey and warned that "there will undoubtedly be a response on our part to this attitude."

Asked if Ankara would strike fleeing rebels after an attack on Turkish soil, Erdogan said: "That's not even a matter of discussion, it is a given. That is the objective, that is what must be done."

"That is what we have been doing and will continue to do in Iraq," he said during a programme aired on Kanal 24.

"If we occasionally launch aerial strikes against terrorist areas it's because these are measures taken because of defence needs."

Turkey regularly bombs suspected Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and by much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

Relations between Turkey and Syria have steadily soured since the start of the uprising against Assad's rule in Syria in March 2011, with Erdogan criticising the regime's crackdown against the revolt.

A Turkish military convoy patrols a highway near the border with Iraq in October 2011. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Syria of letting Turkey's Kurdish rebels operate inside the north of the country and warned that Ankara would not hesitate to strike against them.