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Turkey vows to defeat Kurdish rebels after deadly clashes

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Author Topic: Turkey vows to defeat Kurdish rebels after deadly clashes  (Read 30 times)
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« on: October 21, 2007, 10:27:56 pm »

by Mahmut Bozarslan

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (AFP) - Turkey said Sunday it was ready to pay any price to win victory over Kurdish separatists after 12 soldiers and 32 rebels were killed in heavy clashes near the tense border with Iraq.

The warning was issued in a statement following emergency talks between Turkish civilian and military leaders, chaired by President Abdullah Gul, to determine Turkey's response amid threats of a military strike against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) bases in northern Iraq.

"Although it respects Iraq's territorial integrity, Turkey will not tolerate that terrorism be aided and abetted and will not be afraid to pay, whatever the price may be, to protect its rights, its indivisible unity and its citizens," said the statement.

"The fight against the separatist terrorist organization will be waged with determination until the very end," it added, using the official jargon for the PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and much of the international community.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government was ready to use its parliamentary authorization to send troops into Iraq, but added that it would do so only on the right conditions.

"We will not hesitate to act on the appropriate military grounds," he told a press conference in Ankara after the high-level talks.

Turkish Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul said earlier in Kiev, after talks with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, that Ankara did not have urgent plans to cross the border.

Erdogan added that he had urged US action to stamp out PKK bases during a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who appealed for a more time.

The United States strongly opposes any unilateral Turkish action in northern Iraq as a move that could destabilize that relatively calm region.

In Washington, US President George W. Bush pledged cooperation with Turkey against the PKK threat and urged Iraq to deal with PKK attacks from its territory.

In Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki denounced the PKK attack just hours after the Iraqi parliament passed a motion condemning Turkey's threat to stage a raid in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

Iraqi Kurdish leaders said they would rebuff an attack on their territory.

The Turkish general staff said in a statement that fighting erupted in a mountainous region in the southeastern province of Hakkari after PKK rebels infiltrated from northern Iraq and attacked soldiers on patrol shortly after midnight Saturday.

Sixteen Turkish soldiers were wounded in the fighting near the village of Daglica, almost on the Iraqi border in Hakkari province.

Clashes were continuing, with helicopters providing air cover, the army said. Troops were monitoring the rebels' escape routes and heavy artillery was pounding 63 likely targets, it said.

The general staff first reported 23 PKK rebels killed, then increased the number to 32, bringing the total number of dead in the fighting to 44.

Hours after the Hakkari attack, 17 civilians were injured in a mine blast also blamed on PKK rebels. The injured were travelling in a minibus which drove over the mine near Daglica, Turkish sources said.

Ankara says some 3,500 PKK fighters are based in northern Iraq where they are able to obtain weapons and are supported by Iraqi Kurdish leaders, a charge the Iraqi Kurdish administration strongly denies.

Earlier this week, Erdogan said he expected Baghdad to shut down all PKK camps on its territory and hand over rebel leaders.

But Iraq's president Jalal Talabani said on Sunday that Baghdad was unable to meet the demand.

"PKK's leaders are in Kurdistan's rugged mountains. The Turkish military... could not annihilate them or arrest them, so how could we arrest them and hand them to Turkey?" he asked at a news conference in Arbil.

Faced with rising rebel violence, Turkey says it is running out of options other than military action, with neither the United States nor Iraq doing enough to stamp out the rebel bases.

More than 37,000 people have been killed since 1984 when the PKK took up arms fighting for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast.
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« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2007, 10:29:46 pm »

A Turkish ultra-nationalist holds the national flag during a demonstration against the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) in the center of Istanbul. Turkey vowed strong action Sunday against Kurdish separatists after 12 of its soldiers and 32 rebels were killed in clashes sparked by an ambush near the tense border with Iraq.(AFP/Sezayi Erken)
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