Turkey Shells Autonomous Kurds in Iraq

ANKARA (UPI/Reuters)–The Turkish military shelled Thursday Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

The barrage came a day after a group of Kurdish and American officials–including a US general–inspected Iraqi Kurdistan for evidence of purported illegal cross-border Turkish military operations.

Ali Auni–an official from the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party–said a 50 year old shepherd was wounded in an attack in northern Iraq.

"Yesterday morning at 11:00 AM Turkish forces shelled the village of Zawita and some other Kurdish villages," he said–referring to an area near the border.

Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment–but last month a Turkish Government official dismissed a similar allegation as "total fabrication."

Ankara habitually launches a spring offensives against fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the southeast of Turkey near the border with Iraq.

Iraqi security forces have recently been trying to stop PKK fighters based in mountainous and mainly Kurdish northern Iraq from crossing over the border into Turkey.

The Turkish Government has asked US and Iraqi forces to help pressure PKK units based inside Iraq.

After a recent increase in PKK attacks Turkey has sent 40,000 extra troops to reinforce the 220,000 already in its Kurdish areas–representing the biggest military build-up in years.

Turkey and Iran are wary of the autonomy that Iraqi Kurds have established since the war in Iraq in 2003 and are concerned that it might provoke more unrest among their own large Kurdish populations.

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