Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Politics: parties under pressure

Read more

FOCUS

In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more

ENCORE!

Haute Couture: the hand-stitched clothing made in Paris that sells for the price of small yachts

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Caution, another Cast Lead lies ahead'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Rising into the ranks of Haute Couture

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive (part 2)

Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • The third-place playoff: the World Cup game no one wants to play

    Read more

  • Suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting drops extradition appeal

    Read more

  • Kurdish forces take over two oilfields in northern Iraq

    Read more

  • Are French high school students getting smarter?

    Read more

  • Italy’s Trentin wins seventh stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Disgraced Suarez leaves Liverpool for Barcelona

    Read more

  • In pictures: Chanel, Dior and so much more at the Paris couture shows

    Read more

  • French ‘Civic Service’ eyes massive expansion amid huge demand

    Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • In Pictures: Petrol station hit by Hamas rockets

    Read more

  • Manhunt as FIFA partner flees Rio hotel to avoid arrest

    Read more

  • Video: Living in Tel Aviv, under threat of rocket attack

    Read more

  • Video: Palestinians fear full Israeli military offensive in Gaza

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces close in on Donetsk

    Read more

Major Turkish offensive in northern Iraq

©

Latest update : 2008-02-24

Turkey launched a ground offensive backed by fighter jets in northern Iraq to hunt down Kurdish PKK rebels. The operation is planned to last 15 days, according to security sources quoted by CNN Turk.

The Turkish military said on Friday it had launched a cross-border ground offensive into Iraq to flush out Kurdish PKK rebels based in northern Iraq. Meanwhile, Iraq's central government in Baghdad urged Turkey to respect its sovereignty.

 

The Turkish General Staff posted a message on its Web site saying its troops had crossed the border at 7pm local time Thursday, after a preparatory artillery bombardment. "The Turkish Armed Forces, which attach great importance to Iraq's territorial integrity and stability, will return home in the shortest time possible after its goals have been achieved," the message read.

 

“The message emphasizes that the troops will be withdrawn when the operation is finished, and that the operation is not an attack on Iraqi sovereignty,” said Jasper Mortimer, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Ankara.

 

Turkish television station NTV reported that 10,000 troops had entered Iraqi territory.

  
 

Jasper Mortimer said the timing of the offensive – in February when temperatures are still very low in the border region – suggests that the Turkish military do not intend to leave their troops inside Iraq for long. “There’s still a lot of snow on the mountains."

  

According to Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Turkish troops destroyed five bridges across a remote mountain river on the Iraqi border during the incursion.
 

On the Kurdish side, Ahmed Danees, head of foreign relations for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), told Reuters by satellite phone from an undisclosed location that the rebels clashed with Turkish troops in the Zagros mountains where the borders of Turkey, Iran and Iraq meet.
 

"There are severe clashes. Two Turkish soldiers have been killed and eight wounded. There are no PKK casualties,"  the PKK spokesperson said.

 

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki assured his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a telephone call Thursday night that the Iraqi government considers the PKK a common threat but urged Turkey to respect Iraq’s territorial integrity.  

 


US: 'not the greatest news'

 

A senior U.S. official on Friday said Turkey’s large-scale incursion was "not the greatest news.” The USA is a major Turkish ally.


Speaking in Brussels, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza told reporters: "A land operation is a whole new level.” He said Washington had been providing intelligence to Turkey on PKK positions in northern Iraq since November to enable the Turkish air force to make pinpointed attacks minimising civilian casualties. 

 

“What’s critical in the region is to have approval from the Americans," said Jean-Bernard Cadier, FRANCE 24's international affairs editor. "It’s not clear in this case if the Turkish army had the green light from the US. The Americans seem embarrassed. They say they were notified about the operation, but that doesn’t mean they gave a go-ahead. The Americans have two allies in the region: the Kurds in northern Iraq, and Turkey. The Turkish operation puts them in a very awkward position.” 

 

11th incursion in recent months

 

The operation is the 11th incursion by Turkish troops into northern Iraq since the end of November, Mortimer said. “It will damage relations between Turkey and Iraq. For months now Turkey has been calling on Baghdad to take measures against the PKK rebels. Baghdad has said ‘They’re not under our control, we can’t control them.’”

 

The PKK rebels are based in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is controlled by the regional Iraqi Kurdish government. Turkey says it has the right under international law to attack the rebels, who have mounted attacks inside Turkey that have killed scores of troops in recent months.

 

Previous Turkish incursions have lasted a few hours and involved relatively small numbers of troops. “Back in December there was a lot of noise about an incursion that involved just 300 troops,” notes Robert Parsons, FRANCE 24’s international affairs editor. “This time it’s much bigger.”

Date created : 2008-02-22

Comments

COMMENT(S)