Turkish general: Iraqi Kurds tolerate rebels

Following attack that killed 15 Turkish soldiers, deputy military chief says Kurdish leadership allowing rebels to use roads and hospitals.

By
October 5, 2008 15:54
2 minute read.
Turkish general: Iraqi Kurds tolerate rebels

erogdan 88. (photo credit: )

 
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A top general on Sunday accused the leaders of northern Iraq of tolerating Kurdish rebels who killed 15 Turkish soldiers in an attack staged partly from Iraqi soil. Gen. Hasan Igsiz, deputy chief of the military, said the Kurdish leadership in northern Iraq was allowing the rebels to use roads and hospitals in the region and ignoring their presence. "We don't receive any kind of support from the local administration in the northern part of Iraq," Igsiz said. "Our expectation from them is to accept that the terrorist organization is a terrorist organization and eliminate the support provided to it." Iraq's central government pledged to cooperate with Turkey against the rebels after Friday's attack, which the guerrillas fired mortars and anti-aircraft artillery from Iraqi soil against Turkish targets. "The Kurdistan regional government denounces the recent PKK attack on Turkish soldiers," it said in a statement dated Saturday. "We condemn this attack and we express our condolences and sorrow to the families of the victims." Tens of thousands of Turks in cities across Turkey attended the funerals on Sunday of the soldiers slain in the attack. Their flag-draped coffins were carried by fellow soldiers and family members amid slogans denouncing the rebel group. Some mourners booed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he left one funeral in the town of Keskin near the capital. Turkey has vowed to wage an all-out fight against the rebels, who also wounded 20 soldiers, the military said. Two soldiers missing in the attack are thought to be dead, Igsiz said. Thirteen of the 15 dead were struck by shrapnel on a steep hill as they defended a military outpost situated in a valley below, Igsiz said. The area has great strategic importance since it sits on a key route used by rebels to infiltrate into Turkey from Iraq, the general said. Early Sunday, dozens of flag-waving protesters gathered outside the Parliament building and chanted: "Down with the PKK!" The protesters also denounced members of a pro-Kurdish party which is facing closure on charges of ties to the rebel organization. "PKK get out of Parliament!" they shouted. Turkish troops have killed at least 23 rebels since the attack in clashes in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq in the deadliest battle in eight months. Igsiz said no Turkish ground troops entered Iraq after the attack but Turkish F-16s and artillery units pounded rebel positions just across the border. The rebels belonged to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey's southeast since 1984. Turkey's civilian leaders vowed to respond to the rebels harshly. "Whatever the cost, the fight will go on full force," President Abdullah Gul said in televised address Saturday. Turkey's Parliament is scheduled to vote in coming on whether to extend for another year a mandate authorizing the military to carry out cross-border operations against Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq. The current authority expires Oct. 17.

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