Turkish Government Says It Would Back Military in Any Offensive in Northern Iraq

ANKARA (AP)Turkeys government has said it would back the military if the generals seek to stage an incursion into northern Iraq to fight Kurdish rebels. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made his remarks in an interview Wednesday night, hours after authorities said a suicide bomb attack on Tuesday that killed six people and wounded dozens of others resembled the methods of Kurdish guerrillas. "We would do whatever is necessary for the peace and happiness of our country. It is out of the question for us to fall into a disagreement with our security forces, soldiers, on this issue," Erdogan told private ATV television. He was responding to a question about what his government would do if the military sought permission to stage a crossborder attack. Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, chief of the military, stressed the need for a crossborder operation in April but it was not clear whether the military has formally relayed its demand to the government for a Parliament vote. "When necessary, this step would be taken, there would be no delay," Erdogan said. Meanwhile, Erdogan urged the United States to crack down on Kurdish rebels as Turkey’s leaders are growing increasingly impatient over a lack of action against the guerrillas by Iraqi and U.S. forces. "If the terrorist organization is based in northern Iraq, then the United States must fulfill its responsibility," Erdogan said in reference to the outlawed PKK rebel group. Such action could burden the overstretched U.S. military with trying to resolve a conflict between two crucial partners, the Turks and the Iraqi Kurds. Washington has urged Turkish restraint. The military is currently waging large-scale operations against separatists in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeastern region bordering Iraq. Turkey staged several incursions into Iraq in the early 1990s with as many as 50,000 troops. But each time, the rebels made a comeback after most of the Turkish soldiers withdrew. The military says up to 3,800 rebels are based just across the border in Iraq and that up to 2,300 operate inside Turkey. The conflict has killed tens of thousands since 1984.


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