Turkish Troops Take Kurdish Base in Iraq

ANKARA (Reuter)–Turkish troops have again captured the main Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) base in northern Iraq in the second week of a cross-border operation–the state-run Anatolian news agency said on Tuesday.

Turkish forces "have taken control of the Zab area–which the terrorists had said could not be entered," the agency said.

The rugged Zab area contains the PKK’s main camp in northern Iraq–from where the rebels stage attacks across the border into southeast Turkey.

Turkish troops occupied the area during a similar offensive earlier this year but the rebels re-established themselves.

The agency said the Turks had killed 342 PKK members so far in the cross-border campaign. Forty-five rebels were killed in the fighting around Zab alone–it said.

It did not say when troops took control of the base.

About 15,000 Turkish troops–supported by Kurdish militia forces–entered Iraq last week in a campaign that has angered Baghdad–which lost control of northern Iraq to Iraqi Kurdish groups after the 1991 Gulf War.

Turkey says it is winning the anti-Kurd campaign in southeast Turkey but needs to finish off the PKK in northern Iraq.

The government is to lift emergency rule next week in three out of nine provinces in the southeast–State Minister Sukru Sina Gurel said.

Emergency rule–one step short of martial law–gives the authorities wide powers to carry out their 13-year campaign against the Kurds.

"We have decided to lift emergency rule in the provinces of Batman–Bingol and Bitlis as of October 6," Gurel said. He said parliament would debate the issue on Thursday.

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