- Title: VARIOUS: Turkey's parliament approves Iraq incursion plan
- Date: 18th October 2007
- Summary: TANKS POSITIONED AT THE MOUNTAINS VARIOUS OF ARMY VEHICLES ON ROAD
- Embargoed: 2nd November 2007 12:00
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVABA0LALS4HJ6YTE6B5DQUWXYXQ
- Story Text: Turkish lawmakers on Wednesday (October 17) overwhelmingly called for a military operation in northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels hiding there as Iraqi leaders stepped up a diplomatic offensive to avert any attack.
Turkish soldiers were already patrolling the border area early in the day, with military convoys including armoured personnel carriers and tanks.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has played down expectations of any imminent attack, but the parliamentary vote will effectively give NATO's second biggest army a free rein to cross the mountainous border as and when it sees fit.
Erdogan is under heavy public pressure to act after a series of deadly attacks on Turkish troops by rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), some 3,000 of whom are believed to be hiding in mountainous northern Iraq.
Locals in the Kurdish areas of Turkey nervously watched parliament voting in coffee houses and expressed their disappointment at the approval of the motion allowing a cross border operation into Iraq against Kurdish guerillas.
In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called Turkish President Abdullah Gul to urge restraint ahead of the parliamentary vote.
"He did urge all parties to exercise restraint in what is obviously a period of great tension," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said on Wednesday. He added that NATO viewed the PKK as a terrorist group.
Ankara says NATO allies have not done enough to help it deal with rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) after a series of deadly cross-border attacks on Turkish troops.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is a Kurd, condemned the PKK tactics but urged Turkey to show restraint.
"We consider the activities of the PKK against the interests of the Kurdish people and against the interests of Turkey. We have asked the PKK to stop fighting and end military activity," Talabani said during a visit to Paris.
At a news conference in Arbil, Iraq, the speaker for the Kurdish parliament, Adnan al-Mufti, said he hoped a peaceful solution would be found.
"We have never wanted and still do not want things to reach this path as long as there is an opportunity to find a solution to these problems and to reach joint goals and to achieve joint benefits for neighbouring Turkey, the region of Kurdistan, and Iraq," he said.
Ankara blames the PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since the group launched its armed struggle for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.
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