Iraq denies Turkish incursion in N. Iraq

By Xinhua

Mosul, Iraq : Iraqi border guards in northern Iraq denied on Sunday any Turkish military incursion across the borders with Iraq to fight against Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels.

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“I can confirm that there is no any Turkish military offensive inside the Iraqi territories,” Col. Hussein Tamur, commander of border guards responsible for the Iraqi-Turkish borders, told Xinhua.

“The Turkish Army intensified its artillery shelling and air strikes on Iraqi Kurdish villages near the joint border to, northeast of Duhuk,” Tamur said.

Late on Saturday, spokesman of the Kurdish regional government also denied the news of the Turkish incursion to chase the PKK rebels.

“There is no signs that the Turkish Army swept border areas inside Kurdistan region,” Jamal Abdullah said in a statement posted on internet.

A Turkish military statement said on Saturday that its troops launched a military operation against Kurdish rebels in Cukurca town of Hakkari province in southeastern Turkey along the border.

The statement said that it detected the group of PKK rebels inside Iraqi territory and inflicted significant losses on them.

“Upon intelligence on Dec. 1, a group of 50-60 terrorists were detected inside Iraqi territory in southeast of Cukurca town of southeastern province of Hakkari,” said the statement posted on its website.

On Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after meeting with the Chief Judge of the Constitutional Court Hasim Kilic that Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) were authorized for cross-border operation against the outlawed PKK as of Nov. 28, 2007.

On Oct. 17, the Turkish parliament approved a resolution giving the government the legal basis to order cross-border military operations into Iraq if and when it deemed them necessary.

Turkey has massed up to 100,000 troops at Turkish-Iraqi borders in preparations for a possible cross-border operation to crush about 3,000-strong PKK rebels. Security operations are underway in southeastern and eastern Turkey.

The PKK, listed by the United States and Turkey as a terrorist group, took up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of creating an ethnic homeland in the southeast. More than 30,000 people have been killed in the over-two-decade conflict.