Turkey mulls 10,000 troops for Iraq

Turkey will send 10,000 soldiers to Iraq if the government decides to help the US-led coalition restore stability there, Ankara’s foreign minister has said.

    Mending fences: Gul (L) recently met US counterpart Colin Powell

    "We have not made a decision yet, but if we decide to send troops, their number would be about 10,000," said Abd Allah Gul in a newspaper interview published on Saturday.

    But he also made it clear Turkey was concerned by a resurgence of attacks by the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party.

    Turkish authorities believe around 5000 fighters from the party, now known as Kadek, have sought refuge in the mountains that straddle Turkey's border with Iraq.

    Three Kurdish guerrillas and two Turkish soldiers were killed during a fierce gun battle in Turkey's troubled southeast on Friday, said Turkish military sources.

    Another seven Turkish soldiers were injured in the firefight some 80km from the border with Iraq.

    We're not Iraq's enemy

    Gul said Turkish soldiers would not be as exposed to attacks in Iraq as US troops, which have been subjected to daily, often deadly attacks over the past few weeks.

    "To the Iraqi people, a Turkish soldier is just not like a US one, we are not an enemy," he told the tabloid Star newspaper.

    Gul was speaking after a Friday meeting of the Turkey's National Security Council, where the government and military chiefs stressed the need to stabilise Iraq, without explicitly calling for a Turkish contingent to be sent there.

    The issue will also be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Monday, with a vote in parliament to take place by mid-September, according to some press reports.

    In early March, the Turkish parliament triggered Washington's anger by rejecting government plans to allow US troops to invade northern Iraq from Turkey.
     
    A decision to send Turkish troops to Iraq is seen as a possible way of mending fences with the US administration, as well as giving Ankara a say in its troubled neighbour's political future.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Life after death row: The pastor praying for Nigeria's prisoners

    The Nigerian pastor adapting to life after death row

    Clinton Kanu spent 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, but life on the outside feels far from free.

    What it means to love a dead child

    What it means to love a dead child

    You must forget all you thought you knew about grief when the landscape of your life has been demolished.

    'Butchered': The Kenyan FGM clinic serving Europeans

    'Butchered': The Kenyan FGM clinic serving Europeans

    Kenya banned FGM in 2011, but Europeans still bring their daughters to underground clinics there to be cut.