Turkey says may launch ground offensive into northern Iraq at any time

TODAYSZAMAN.COM


Turkish tanks and armored vehicles are seen near the southeastern Turkish town of Silopi, near the Iraqi border in this Feb. 22, 200 file photo. (Photo: Reuters)
Turkey said on Tuesday that its military may launch a ground offensive against terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq at any time in accordance with ongoing talks with Iraqi Kurdish officials as part of cooperation against the PKK.

Interior Minister ?dris Naim ?ahin said in response to questions from reporters as to whether Turkey is pondering a ground operation in northern Iraq that talks with the Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq are still under way and that a cross-border ground offensive could be launched at any time just like aerial strikes. In August, the Turkish military launched aerial attacks on PKK targets in northern Iraq, killing up to 160 terrorists.
The PKK uses its bases in northern Iraq to launch attacks on Turkey. Its Iranian wing, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), is also involved in clashes with Iranian forces.
Last week, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlio?lu travelled to Iraq and discussed the issue of the fight against terrorism, as well as bilateral and regional issues, with Iraqi Kurdish officials. Sinirlio?lu’s visit to Iraq comes amid a surge in PKK attacks on Turkish troops. Dozens of troops were killed in PKK attacks over the past couple of months.
Last Thursday, opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli called on the government to authorize a ground offensive against PKK targets in northern Iraq before winter, saying “no stone should be left unturned” in the Kandil Mountains where the PKK has bases. Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and other top commanders inspected troops in southeastern Anatolia last week, raising speculations that the military might be preparing for a ground offensive in northern Iraq.

A security summit was also held at the Prime Ministry on Monday before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an left the country for a visit to Egypt.


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