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IRAQ - Jan. 8 - Turkish Incursion.

Iraqi Kurdish officials confirm that at least 500 Turkish troops have pushed into northern Iraq in their deepest incursion into the Kurdish-controlled enclave in 15 years of war against Kurdish separatists. They describe the incursion, extending 160 km, as preparation for a major offensive against about 2,500 rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who are dug in along a swath of mountainous territory on the Iran-Iraq border. The mass-circulation Turkish daily Sabah repeats earlier reports that as many as 10,000 Turkish troops have poured into northern Iraq since Dec. 20 in response to pleas for help from one of the main Iraqi Kurdish factions there. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which controls the southern third of the Iraqi Kurdish enclave, has been clashing with the PKK since September. A PUK official says: "The PKK has occupied 45 of our villages since September. They are terrorising our people and should leave our territory at once". As many as 200 PUK soldiers have been killed in fighting with the PKK in recent weeks around the towns of Sulaymaniyah and Raniyah, according to the Iraqi newspaper Al Iraq, which on Jan. 5 also alluded to Turkish military involvement. The Turkish general staff issued a statement on Jan. 7 denying the incursion, saying the media reports "involve no truth". But Turkish PM Bulent Ecevit said in statement reported by the Anatolia News Agency: "Turkey is of course providing technical support. This is necessary for our own security". (Northern Iraq has been under the control of two rival Iraqi Kurdish factions, the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, or KDP, ever since they united for a failed uprising against Baghdad at the end of the Gulf War in March 1991. Millions of Kurdish civilians flocked to the Iranian and Turkish borders, provoking an international outcry and prompting the Gulf War allies to establish a no-flight zone).
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7TURK
Date:Jan 13, 2001
Words:315
Previous Article:IRAN - Jan. 13 - Liberals Get Jail.
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