Middle East News
LEADALL: Turkey launches more strikes, including northern Iraq
Dec 26, 2007, 19:47 GMT
Turkish fighter jets and security forces on Wednesday kept up their fight against militant Kurdish rebels, with more attacks on armed left-wing rebels holed up in southern Turkey and northern Iraq.
A total of 13 suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan's People Party (PKK) were killed in attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday in the southeastern Turkish city of Sirnak. Military officials in Istanbul said the dead included two women.
In the attacks into northern Iraq's Kurdish Autonomous Region, where Turkish rebels have crossed the border seeking refuge, Iraqi border guard sources said that Turkish aircraft bombed Kordan in the city of Duhuk over a two-kilometre area.
The area was deserted by its population months ago, the sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. But they added the bombing had been heavy, confirming information from the Turkish general staff in Ankara that eight high value PKK targets had been hit in the attacks into Iraq.
Since the air raids began on December 16, the Turkish army estimates it has killed at least 150 to 175 PKK exiles in Iraq. Turkish President Abdullah Gul was optimistic about the attacks on the PKK.
'We are making good forward progress,' he told journalists.
In Washington, the White House said it had 'concerns' about steps that could lead to escalation and 'civilian casualties,' but also repeated past support for the Turkish government.
Scott Stanzel, a deputy spokesman for US President George W Bush, said that Turkey was wrestling down PKK as a 'terrorist organization ... that is a destabilizing force to Iraq.'
'The Iraqis dont want terrorists in their country and the PKK is a destabilizing force in the northern part of Iraq,' Stanzel said. 'So we continue to work collaboratively, both with Iraq and Turkey, on these issues.'
Over the past weeks, Washington has confirmed that it was sharing intelligence and supporting the Turkish government's policies.
But Stanzel repeated warnings that have accompanied the aid.
'We've also made it clear to the Turkish government' that 'we have concerns' about anything that could lead to 'escalated' steps, Stanzel said.
Stanzel spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One while Bush was travelling to Texas to spend some holiday time.
It was not clear if a bombing overnight Wednesday at a police station in Istanbul's Kucukcekmece area, near Ataturk Airport, was connected to PKK, Anadolu Ayansi news agency reported.
One woman was dead and seven people injured in the blast, Istanbul's security chief Celalettin Cerrah said. A suspect was in police custody and Cerrah has cancelled the New Years' celebrations.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur