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Turkey prepares for cross-border operation into n. Iraq
Kurdish rebels have killed 15 soldiers in the past two days, increasing anger in the country over the insurgents' ability to find refuge in Iraq.
In a move that could lead to an invasion of northern Iraq, Turkey's government has decided to seek parliamentary authorization for a cross-border military operation to chase separatist Kurdish rebels who operate from bases in the area, a party official said Tuesday. The government did not say it had decided to launch such an operation. In the past Turkey has carried out smaller-scale "hot pursuit" operations that officials say do not require parliamentary approval. There are widespread fears - in Baghdad and among its American and other allies - that a Turkish incursion could destabilize an area of Iraq that has escaped much of the violence that has persisted in the center and south of the country. The decision was taken during a three-hour meeting between Erdogan and officials from his ruling party, said a party official who was at the meeting. He asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. It was not clear when the bill would come to the floor, but the government wanted the measure to pass "as soon as possible," the official said. Earlier, the government said it had begun preparations for a military operation into Iraq in pursuit of the rebels, after deadly attacks on soldiers in recent days that outraged the Turkish public. However, a statement released after a meeting between Erdogan and security officials did not say an operation would definitely occur. Turkey has said it would prefer that the United States and its Iraqi Kurd allies in northern Iraq crack down on the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. "Institutions concerned have been given the necessary orders and instructions to make all kinds of legal, economic and political preparations to end the presence of the terror organization in a neighboring country in the upcoming period, including if necessary a cross-border operation," the statement said. In the last 10 days, more than two dozen people - soldiers and civilians - were killed in southeastern Turkey in attacks by PKK rebels. The group, labeled a terrorist one by the US and the European Union, has fought the government forces since 1984 in a fight that claimed tens of thousands of lives.
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