Turkish troops target main Kurd rebel camp in Iraq

AMADIYAH, Iraq (AFP) – Turkish troops, backed by fighter jets, closed in on a main rebel base in their offensive against Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq that has so far claimed at least 170 lives.

Regional security forces in the Kurdish-administered autonomous region reported sustained fighting overnight as Turkish soldiers advanced on the base in the Zap area.

The camp, situated in a deep valley just a six-kilometer (four-mile) walk from the Turkish border, has been identified by the military as a major staging post used by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels to launch attacks into Turkish territory.

The Turkish army says it has killed 153 rebels and lost 17 soldiers since it launched its cross-border incursion against PKK bases in northern Iraq.

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Clashes continued in the mountainous Hakurk area to the east, close to Iraq’s border with Iran, where the Turkish army air-dropped troops and helicopter gunships pounded rebel positions.

PKK fighters suffered “heavy losses under fire from close quarters” as they tried to escape, the Turkish general staff said in a statement. Warplanes hit around 30 targets deep in northern Iraq on the route of the Turkish advance, it said.

Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Army Chief Yasar Buyukanit joined thousands in Ankara Monday for the funeral of three soldiers slain in the offensive as mourners chanted anti-PKK slogans.

In Diyarbakir, the main city in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey, up to 10,000 people spilled into the streets in protest against the government for ordering troops into northern Iraq.

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Kurdistan Prime-Minister Nechirvan Barzani saying: “We don’t want to fight anyone, but if they fight us, we will defend ourselves.”


Iraqi Government Demands Turkey’s Immediate Withdrawal From North

BAGHDAD (AP) 5 minutes ago — The Iraqi government denounced the Turkish incursion and demanded an immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq.

Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the military action was a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, and he called on the Turkish government to engage the Iraqis in dialogue instead.

“The Iraqi Cabinet has denounced the Turkish army’s incursion,” al-Dabbagh said in a televised statement after the government met to discuss the issue. ” The Cabinet calls on Turkey to withdraw its troops immediately and stop military interference.”  

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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