Turkey says military operation against Kurds may last a year

February 28th, 2008 - 11:33 pm ICT by admin  

Ankara, Feb 28 (DPA) Turkey’s military operation in northern Iraq against Kurdish separatists could finish in as short a time as one day or take up to year, Turkish Chief of General Staff Yasar Buyukyanit said Thursday. On the sidelines of talks with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates in Ankara, Buyukyanit repeated Turkey’s promise that it would withdraw Turkish troops as soon as possible but refused to give a date, NTV television reported.

“The shortest time is a relative concept. It may be one day or it might mean a year,” Buyukyanit was quoted as saying.

Earlier, Gates said that Turkey should quickly wrap up its military incursion against Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq.

In order to stop “terror”, not just military but also economic and political initiatives must be made, he said.

Gates was quoted by CNN-Turk television as saying after talks with Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul that the Washington wanted the operation to be “short and precisely targeted”.

Gates was later scheduled to meet President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Meanwhile, media reports quoted the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), fighting for a Kurdish homeland, as claiming to have killed Thursday 18 Turkish soldiers in a mountainous area.

There was no independent confirmation of the PKK claim..

By official Turkish military accounts, so far 230 PKK fighters and 24 Turkish soldiers had been killed since Turkey’s “Operation Gunes” incursion began on the night of Feb 21.

Up to 10,000 Turkish troops have entered into northern Iraq to carry out the operation.

The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

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