VARIOUS: Turkish troops patrol border with Iraq amidst controversy over Armenian genocide bill
- Title: VARIOUS: Turkish troops patrol border with Iraq amidst controversy over Armenian genocide bill
- Date: 12th October 2007
- Summary: (BN09) SIRNAK, TURKEY (OCTOBER 11, 2007) (REUTERS) LONG VIEWS OF TURKISH SOLDIERS NEAR WATCH TOWER NEAR IRAQ BORDER TURKISH ARMOURED VEHICLE TURKISH SOLDIERS WALKING VARIOUS OF TURKEY'S HABUR BORDER GATE TO IRAQ TRUCKS AT BORDER GATE
- Reuters ID: LVA3K5BNP7CCZ86U6OLFRLGIJCK5
- Duration: 00:00:52
- Aspect Ratio:
- Topics: International Relations
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: Tension heightens on Iraq-Turkey border as Ankara seeks authorisation from parliament for an incursion into northern Iraq to fight Kurdish rebels. U.S.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates warns of alienating an important ally if Armenian genocide bill passes.
Turkey's Prime Minister will ask parliament next week to authorise a military push into north Iraq to fight Kurdish rebels.
Analysts say a large Turkish cross-border incursion remains unlikely, but Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government will seek authorisation for it after a public holiday whichon Sunday (October 14), a ruling party member told Reuters.
Parliament would have to grant its permission for troops to cross the border into Iraq.
Washington fears such a move could destabilise Iraq's most peaceful area and potentially the wider region, but Erdogan has been under mounting pressure to act after 15 Turkish soldiers were killed in an attack by Kurdish rebels.
Last Sunday's (October 7) attack in Turkey's Sirnak province was the deadliest single incident in 12 years. Two other soldiers died on Monday (October 8) in separate PKK landmine explosions.
The previous week, 12 people, including village guards, died when PKK rebels ambushed their minibus in Sirnak province.
Turkey's powerful armed forces have frequently called on the government to give them the green light to pursue the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) -- which is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, Turkey and the EU, into Iraq.
Ankara says 3,000 PKK rebels are based in the Iraqi mountains from where they stage attacks into Turkey.
U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned on Thursday that if the genocide bill passed, it could be detrimental to America's fight in Iraq.
Speaking at a news conference in London with his British counterpart Des Browne, he acknowledged that mass murders occurred in 1915 in what is now Turkey, but highlighted the current importance the country plays in the US role in Iraq.
"I think we all recognise that there were mass murders 95 years ago, 1915, the problem that we have is that this is clearly a sensitive subject for one of our closest allies, and an ally that is incredibly important to the United States in terms of our operations in Iraq," he said.
Iraqis living near Turkey's borders waited for news from their neighbours.
Kurdish villagers in Iraq say they are coming under fire already.
"We call upon the Kurdistan government in the Iraqi government to stop these attacks, as these attacks have no reason. I do not know why they attacked us. There are only civilians in this area, no military men,"
said one man.
Turkey, which has NATO's second biggest army, has recently carried out small "hot pursuit" raids into northern Iraq amid an escalation in attacks against Turkish civilians and soldiers.
Turkey's army has also boosted troop levels in the southeast to fight the PKK inside Turkey and try to prevent rebels from infiltrating from northern Iraq. Several security buffer zones have been set up as well.
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- Embargoed:27th October 2007 13:00