Kurds blame US for Turkish attacks in northern Iraq

February 23rd, 2008 - 8:19 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead, changing dateline)
Baghdad, Feb 23 (DPA) The Autonomous Region of Kurdistan Saturday blamed the US for the latest Turkish invasion in northern Iraq and called on Turkey to withdraw its troops from the area, a spokesman for the Kurdish prime ministry said. “The US administration is responsible for all the Turkish attacks that breached the Iraqi sovereignty and has to stop all the military operations taking place. Without the US, Turkey would not have made such violations,” Fallah Moustafa said.

He said the Kurdish government condemned all the recent Turkish military attacks and air raids.

“We urge the Turkish government to immediately withdraw from the region, because we believe that the situation should be resolved peacefully,” Moustafa said.

The Autonomous Region of Kurdistan was not considered a part of the ongoing clashes between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), he added.

The Kurdish government has taken various actions to limit the PKK’s activities.

“The people of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan are paying the price for a problem they are not a part of,” Moustafa said.

“We call for a direct dialogue between Ankara, Washington and Erbil to solve the situation. We would prefer not to have any further conflicts between the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Turkish forces, and we call on the Iraqi government to firmly deal with the issue,” he said.

Thursday, Turkish artillery shelled Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq while Turkish warplanes hovered over the area. One day later, Turkish troops crossed into Iraq in an attempt to destroy Kurdish rebel bases in the mountainous region. Turkish television reported that 10,000 troops had been involved.

At least 24 PKK rebels and five Turkish soldiers have so far been killed during the ground offensive, according to Turkish military.

The Turkish forces Saturday continued their attacks on positions of the banned Kurdish rebel group, which is considered a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union.

The PKK has been fighting for a separate homeland for Turkey’s Kurdish minority.

Turkey has carried out regular cross-border air strikes and small-scale operations targeting positions of PKK rebels.

The Turkish army is preparing for a large offensive in northern Iraq in the spring, according to reports.

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