Turkey attacks PKK fighters in Iraq

Army says it has inflicted heavy damage on a group of Kurdish separatists.

     Ankara has been under intense domestic pressure
    to act against PKK fighters [AFP]

     

    "An intense intervention was made on the group and it was detected that the terrorist group had suffered heavy casualties."
     

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    "I think it is pretty difficult to say troops shouldn't [invade] when the Turkish soldiers are being killed, and their villages attacked"

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    A Turkish military official told Reuters news agency that around 100 special forces were also sent into northern Iraq.
     
    However, a senior leader of the PKK in Iraq, near Turkey's border, denied that the Turkish army had attacked its fighters.
     
    "Our area is quiet. Nothing has happened. There are no air strikes nor any artillery shells," the official told AFP news agency.
     
    In the Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil, Fuad Hussein, chief of staff for Massud Barzani, president of Iraq's Kurdish region, did not categorically confirm the strikes but said "it could be artillery shelling."
     
    He said a ground assault by Turkish forces was unexpected given the "prevailing weather conditions."
     
    Authorisation
     
    The army operation came a day after Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, said his cabinet had authorised the armed forces to conduct a cross-border operation against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters in northern Iraq.

     

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    Kurdistan Workers' Party

    Ankara had been under intense domestic pressure to act against PKK fighters.

    Turkey has amassed up to 100,000 troops near the mountainous border, backed up by tanks, artillery and warplanes, for a possible strike into mainly Kurdish northern Iraq against PKK fighters.

    Ankara has made many threats of military action but, under heavy US pressure, has so far shown restraint.

    Washington fears a large-scale operation could destabilise the most stable part of Iraq and possibly the wider region.

    Turkey's parliament approved a resolution on October 17 giving the government the legal basis to order cross-border military operations if and when it deemed them necessary.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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