Turkey preparing for incursion into Iraq after PKK militants kill 17 soldiers

Sunday, October 21, 2007

As many as 17 Turkish soldiers were killed and 16 were injured in an ambush after Iraqi Kurdish militants (PKK) attacked the patrol in Hakkari Province on the Iraq-Turkey border. As a result, a large battle erupted and at least 32 Kurdish militants were killed.

"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. The fight against the separatist terrorist organization will be waged with determination until the very end," said Turkey's top officials in a statement issued to the media, after an emergency meeting was held in regards to the battle.

Turkey has been building up troops along its border with Iraq with reports suggesting as many as 60,000 are currently stationed there. On Wednesday, Turkey approved a measure that authorized sending troops into Iraq to take out PKK militants, but on Sunday an official said that the incursion into Iraq was not urgent.

"There are plans to cross the border, but not urgently. We'd like to do these things with the Americans," said Turkish defense minister, Vecdi Gonul.

The U.S. has stated repeatedly that they are against any military action against the PKK and believe that it would cause even more instability in the region.

"These attacks are unacceptable and must stop now. Attacks from Iraqi territory need to be dealt with swiftly by the Iraqi government and Kurdish regional authorities," said a spokesman for U.S. President George W. Bush, Gordon Johndroe.

Iraq has spoken out against the attacks by the PKK and has condemned any such attacks on Turkish soldiers saying "Iraq's parliament unanimously votes to condemn the threat of using force to solve the dispute. It feels that the Turkish parliament's decision to use force does not boost bilateral relations."

Leaders in the Kurdish controlled areas of Iraq state that any attack on them would be met with retaliation.

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