ISTANBUL, Turkey – Turkey’s prime minister defended the recent bombing of Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq as military jets pummeled the area with fresh attacks on Sunday. A spokesman for security forces in the Kurdish-run region, Jabar Yawar, said the jets bombed an area about 50 miles north of Irbil near the border with Turkey for about an hour and a half. He said there were no civilian casualties because the area was deserted for fear of Turkish attacks. Yawar said he did not know whether any Kurdish rebels had been killed. “We are using our nation’s natural right under international law,” while keeping within limits of reason, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said when journalists asked about reports of a fresh cross-border operation, state-run media reported. After a surge in attacks by the rebels, some of whom are based in northern Iraq, Turkey said it would tolerate no more PKK attacks. Parliament voted to allow the military to strike rebel hideouts and camps across the Iraqi border. The U.S. and Iraq have asked Turkey to show restraint in its response to the guerrillas, fearing that a large Turkish incursion could destabilize what has been Iraq’s most stable area. Turkish forces have shelled across the border periodically, and sometimes have carried out “hot pursuits” – limited raids on the Iraqi side that last only a few hours. In a meeting with Erdogan on Nov. 5, President Bush declared the PKK a “common enemy,” and promised to share intelligence on the rebel group. Washington has been providing Turkey with intelligence, and a “coordination center” has been set up in the Turkish capital of Ankara so Turks, Iraqis and Americans can share information. The first confirmed air assault by Turkish forces in Iraq came on Dec. 16, when up to 50 Turkish warplanes entered Iraqi air space and bombed suspected PKK targets, prompting Iraqi officials’ to complain that Turkey’s actions were a violation of Iraqi sovereignty. Still, they have said they recognize the threat posed by the PKK. The military said Saturday that “hundreds” of Kurdish guerrillas had been killed in that operation and in an incursion into Iraq by Turkish land forces two days later. On Saturday, Turkish jets bombed rebel targets inside Iraq for half an hour, following up by shelling the area from inside Turkish border. It was the third confirmed cross-border operation in less than a week by the Turkish forces.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonMilitary authorities were not immediately available to discuss any operations. The U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said before Sunday’s attack that the U.S. acknowledges Turkey’s right to defend itself but asked the U.S. ally and NATO member not to endanger Iraq’s stability. “At the same time, we’ve also said that we all have a pretty substantial interest in the stability of Iraq and none of us want to see operations pursued in a manner that can threaten basic stability inside Iraq,” Crocker said. On Saturday, Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq in the third confirmed cross-border offensive by Turkish forces in less than a week, the military said. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has fought for autonomy in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast since 1984. The group is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.