Turkey sends ground troops into Iraq



Turkey sends ground forces into Iraq after militant attacks

  • 8 September 2015
  • From the section Europe


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F16 and F4 jets targeted several PKK bases across the border in northern Iraq, reports said

Turkish ground forces have crossed into Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish militants for the first time since a ceasefire two years ago.

Government officials said the incursion was a “short-term” measure to hunt down PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) rebels.

Turkish warplanes also launched a wave of air strikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq on Tuesday.

The moves follow deadly attacks by militants on Turkish security forces in the past two days.

An attack on a police minibus in eastern Igdir province on Tuesday claimed at least 12 lives, while PKK bombs killed at least 16 Turkish soldiers on Sunday.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has pledged to “wipe out” rebel strongholds.

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The PKK destroyed a police minibus near Turkey’s far eastern border hours after dozens of fighter jets attacked rebel bases

“Turkish security forces crossed the Iraqi border as part of the hot pursuit of PKK terrorists who were involved in the most recent attacks,” a government source told AFP news agency.

“This is a short-term measure intended to prevent the terrorists’ escape.”

Turkey’s Dogan news agency said two special forces units, supported by warplanes, had been sent in to combat two 20-strong groups of militants.

At least 35 rebels were killed in air raids by F4 and F16 jets on bases at Qandil, Basyan, Avashin and Zap early on Tuesday, according to the Anadolu news agency.

Spiral of attacks – by Selin Girit, BBC News, Istanbul

Not a day passes by in Turkey these days without violence. And as one attack follows another, emotions are running high.

The funerals of 16 soldiers killed in Sunday’s PKK attack were taking place on Tuesday.

Several thousand people have protested in cities across Turkey against PKK violence and the premises of the pro-Kurdish HDP party have come under attack. There were reports of attempted arson.

There is now serious concern that the violence could spiral out of control.

Turkey is gearing up for snap elections on 1 November after the ruling AK Party lost its overall majority in June elections and failed to form a coalition government.

It was the HDP that deprived the AKP of its majority, polling over 13% of the vote and entering parliament as a political party for the first time.

Opposition figures have voiced concerns about maintaining poll security, especially in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish east and south-east of the country.

Turks question explosion in tensions with PKK

The surge in violence follows the collapse of a ceasefire in July between the army and the PKK.

The truce, which began in 2013, unravelled after a suicide bombing by suspected Islamic State militants near the border with Syria led to mutual recriminations between Kurdish groups and Turkey.

More than 40,000 people have died since the PKK launched its armed campaign in 1984, calling for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey.

In Sunday’s attack, the PKK detonated bombs near two military vehicles in the village of Daglica, a mountainous area close to the border with Iraq.


Mr Davutoglu responded by telling reporters Turkey would not be discouraged from its “war on terror”.

“Those mountains will be cleared of these terrorists. Whatever it takes, they will be cleared,” he said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, too, promised a “decisive” response.

Then on Tuesday, PKK fighters targeted a police minibus as it was heading towards a border post close to the Azerbaijan-run enclave of Nakhchivan, reports said.

Hours later, a policeman was shot dead when suspected PKK militants opened fire on his car in the eastern state of Kunceli.

In a speech on Tuesday Mr Erdogan appealed for national unity, adding that “the place for settling accounts in democracies is the ballot box”.

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Demonstrations took place in several Turkish cities on Monday including Istanbul

After President Erdogan’s remarks on the PKK attack, about 200 people chanting slogans in his support attacked the offices of Turkish newspaper Hurriyet in Istanbul.

They accused the news organisation of misquoting Mr Erdogan and implying that he was trying to gain political capital from the Daglica attack.

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The Turkish army said 16 of its soldiers were killed and another six injured in the attack

Hurriyet has attracted criticism from pro-government circles over its coverage of the conflict between Turkey’s government and the PKK.

The government says military operations against the Kurdish rebel group will continue until it withdraws from Turkish soil and disarms.

Curfews have been imposed in several towns where clashes took place and more than 100 districts have been declared “temporary security zones”.

In response, several municipalities in the predominantly Kurdish east and south-east of Turkey have announced “self-rule”.

Critics accuse President Erdogan of renewing violence to curb the support for the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), whose 14% share of the vote in June elections cost the governing AKP its majority in parliament.

The government denies these accusations. Many people fear the clashes will mount as snap elections scheduled for November draw closer.

Source: BBC
Turkey sends ground troops into Iraq

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