mardi 7 octobre 2008

Turkey intensifies fight against terror, Iraq incursion possible

Turkey considers launching an incursion into northern Iraq to target the terror organization, and considers the proposed buffer zones between two neighboring countries as it intensifies to crush PKK. (UPDATED)

"The sole target of a possible cross-border operation will be the terrorist organization," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told at his Justice and Development Party's (AKP) parliamentary group meeting.

Such an operation will be carried out "if need be, at the right time and under the right conditions with a view of obtaining the right result," Erdogan added.

Turkey has pledged to intensify a campaign to crush the outlawed PKK after Friday's attack, the deadliest against the military in a year.

Turkish war jets have been carrying out continuous operations inside Turkey as well as in northern Iraq after the attack left 17 soldiers killed and 20 others injured.

In the latest of these operations on Tuesday morning the military said its fighter jets attacked 21 PKK positions in Iraq's Avasin Baysan region and Turkish mountains bordering Iraq.


Erdogan said a possible incursion would not target either Iraqi civilians or Iraq's unity and integrity, but underlined that his government was determined to protect itself.

"Turkey is in a position of self-defense when it comes to terrorism. Everyone should understand this," he added a day before parliament is set to vote on extending by one-year the government's mandate to order cross-border strikes.

The Turkish parliament is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to extend by another year the military’s authority to carry out operations in northern Iraq. The current mandate expires Oct. 17.

The Turkish army had launched an eight-day long cross-border operation in February and neutralized hundreds of PKK terrorists.

The leader of nationalist opposition party MHP proposed to create a buffer zone between Turkey and Iraq in order to prevent the infiltration of terrorists from the neighboring country.


The Turkish leaders also warned Iraqi Kurds to side with Turkey in combating PKK terrorists who use the autonomous north of Iraq as a springboard for attacks in Turkish territory.

"The best choice for the regional administration of northern Iraq is to cooperate with us against terrorist elements because the terrorist organization is a cause of regional unrest and tension," Erdogan said of the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.

"It is inevitable for those who cannot put a barrier between themselves and terrorism to be adversely affected by the struggle against terrorism," he added.

Turkey has long accused the Iraqi Kurds of tolerating the PKK on their territory where, it says, the militants enjoy support of the local administration and easily obtain weapons and explosives.

Iraqi authorities have repeatedly pledged to curb the PKK, but say the group takes refuge in mountainous regions to which access is difficult.

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