Turkey 'launches new Iraq raids'

BBC News, Feb. 25, 2008

Turkish forces have launched further attacks against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, officials there say.

The security officials say the raids targeted Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) positions near the border overnight. There is no word on any casualties.

The Iraqi government has urged Turkey to withdraw its forces, which were sent across the border on Thursday to confront PKK rebels.

The new fighting prompted the Turkish president to postpone an African trip.

The Turkish army on Monday released new footage of helicopters taking off from an unnamed military base in the south.

It also showed military vehicles transporting soldiers, as well as infrared sensor images of bombing attacks.

It is not clear where or when the footage was recorded, but Iraqi Kurd officials say Turkish forces struck PKK positions about 20km (12 miles) from the border early on Monday.

US concern

The Turkish authorities launched the cross-border attack on Thursday night, after accusing the Iraqi government of failing to stop the PKK from using the area as a safe haven.

Ankara says more than 112 PKK militants have been killed, as well as 15 of its own soldiers, since the fighting flared up again.

Washington has called on Turkey to keep its campaign in Iraq - another US ally - as short as possible.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul was due to begin a four-day trip to Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo on Tuesday.

A presidential spokesman told AFP news agency that the visit had been postponed because "the president wished to be in Ankara while the operation is still under way".

More than 30,000 people have been killed since the PKK began fighting for a Kurdish homeland in south-eastern Turkey in 1984.

The US, the EU and Turkey regard the PKK as a terrorist organisation.

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