TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Eight members of Turkey's security forces and five Kurdish militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were killed in a clash early Thursday near the border between northern Iraq and southeast Turkey, security and hospital sources said.

They said Turkish forces launched a helicopter-backed operation in search of further PKK militants, who sought to cross the border into Hakkari province's mountainous Semdinli district, Reuters reported.

Six Turkish soldiers and two members of the country's state-backed village guard militia were killed in the fighting, along with five PKK members, the sources said.

They said the clashes were continuing.

Over the past few years, Turkey has seen a rise in terror attacks targeting civilians and security forces. Most of the assaults were claimed either by the PKK militants or Daesh (ISIL) terrorists.

Turkey has banned the PKK as a terrorist organization. The militant group has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984. The conflict has left more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, dead.

A shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 was declared null and void by the militants in 2015 in the wake of a large-scale Turkish military campaign against the group. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Turkish air force has been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country’s troubled southeastern border region as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.