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US backs Turkish military attacks on northern Iraq
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 :With the backing and assistance of the Bush administration, the Turkish military has launched two attacks in the past three days on Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. While targetted against the guerrilla forces of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the operations are threatening to provoke a broader conflict involving Turkey and Iraq.
The first cross-border attack, the largest since 2003, took place in the early hours of Sunday. Up to 50 fighter jets bombed targets up to 100 kilometres inside Iraq—in the Zap, Avashin and Hakurk regions and in the rugged Qandil mountains. The army followed up the air strikes, which lasted three hours, with a series of artillery barrages on border villages. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed the raids as a “success”, warning that “our struggle [against the PKK] will continue inside and outside Turkey”.
A second operation involving some 300 troops took place yesterday. Ankara claimed that the operation was to pursue PKK guerrillas sighted near the Iraq-Turkish border. A military official told the media that there had been no reports of any casualties from “a limited clash” and the soldiers withdrew later in the day.
Few details are available of the impact of the air attacks. According to the New York Times, Hassan Ibrahim, a local mayor, reported that eight villages in the Qandil region had been hit. A woman was killed in Asteawkan, two were wounded in Leawzhea and six houses destroyed. In the village of Qalatuqa near the border, locals told Agence France Presse that dozens of buildings, including a new school, had been razed. The British-based Times reported that more than 1,800 people were forced to flee their homes. The PKK claimed that seven people had been killed in the bombing and threatened to retaliate.Read More