Published: 2007/12/16 21:36:33 GMT
'US backed' Turkish raids on Iraq
Turkey's air strikes against Kurdish rebels in Iraq on Sunday were approved
by the United States in advance, the Turkish military says.
The country's top general, Yasar Buyukanit, said the US opened northern
Iraqi airspace for the operation.
Jets targeted the Kurdish rebel PKK in areas near the border. The Turkish
media said up to 50 planes were used.
Iraqi officials say bombs hit 10 villages, killing one woman, while the PKK
reported seven deaths.
Iraq has summoned the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad and demanded a halt to
But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed them a "success".
Turkey has regularly targeted the PKK inside Iraq in recent months, but this
is thought to be the first fighter jet raid outside its own territory.
General Buyukanit said the US "gave intelligence" that aided the operation.
"But what is more important is that the United States last night opened
northern Iraqi airspace to us. By doing that, the United States approved the
operation," he said.
He said winter conditions in the mountainous region would be no obstacle for
the Turkish military.
"The Turkish armed forces have given the message to the Turkish public and
the world that whether it is winter or summer, we will find and hit them
even if they live in caves," he added.
Turkish planes hit the regions of Zap, Hakurk and Avasin as well as areas in
the Kandil mountains in an operation lasting three hours, the Turkish
military said. Artillery barrages followed.
It said only "terrorist" targets, and not civilians, were hit.
Local officials in northern Iraq spoke of families fleeing their homes.
Pro-Kurdish media initially reported the death of one woman and the wounding
of five other civilians in a village near the Kandil mountains.
The PKK itself reportedly announced on an internet site that five of its
fighters and two civilians had been killed in the mountain area, with two
"Many civilians, among them women and children" were also wounded, the group
was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
There was no confirmation of the figures.
Ankara toughened its line against the PKK after a spate of rebel attacks
inside Turkey that prompted widespread calls for action.
In October, Turkey's parliament voted to allow the military to launch
operations into Iraq to combat the PKK, which had stepped up attacks in
Ankara has massed up to 100,000 troops near the mountainous border with
northern Iraq, backed by tanks, artillery and warplanes.
But Iraq and the US have urged Turkey not to carry out its threat.
As many as 3,000 PKK members are believed to be based inside northern Iraq.
Turkey has accused the local Kurdish authorities of supporting them - which
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Published: 2007/12/16 21:36:33 GMT
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