Turkey gears up for further assaults in Iraq

Turkish security council says country will continue operations against PKK 'with determination'.
Turkey gears up for further assaults in Iraq
Sat 29 Dec 2007 07:15 PM

Turkey said Friday it would continue its military operations against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, after several attacks this month against members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"It was decided that the operations carried out with success by our armed forces will be pursued with determination," the country's national security council (MGK) said in a statement published on its website.

The council claimed Turkish forces had inflicted heavy losses against the PKK rebels and largely destroyed their supply and communications systems, while "the zones with civilian populations have not experienced any losses".

Officials in Kurdish-run northern Iraq said a strike Wednesday targeted deserted villages along the border, but the extent of the damage was not immediately known.

The MGK statement comes after three bombing raids the army says it has launched since December 16 and which it claims have killed more than 160 rebels.

Iraqi Kurds have reported two other air strikes this month that Turkey has not confirmed, including a brief one on Tuesday.

Turkey has massed up to 100,000 soldiers in its southeast near the Iraqi border, and in October the Ankara government secured a one-year parliamentary authorisation for cross-border military action to hunt down PKK rebels.

The PKK has been fighting for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984, in a conflict that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.

The group is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU.

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