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October 13, 2008
Turkey attacks Kurdish rebels in Iraq
This would be bigger news at any other time. But with the economic crisis and presidential election, this attack by Turkey on Kurdish rebels on Iraqi soil rates barely a blip on the news-o-meter:
Turkish warplanes and artillery units bombed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) positions in villages near Amadi in Iraq's Duhuk Province, a provincial security official told CNN.
The official said the Turkish military operation started at 5:30 p.m. and lasted an hour and a half. There were no reports of casualties.
Turkey said it was the sixth time in the past week it attacked the PKK in response to clashes that left at least 15 Turkish troops dead in the Turkey-Iraq border region last weekend.
The central Iraqi government has labeled the PKK a terrorist organization, banning its activities and closing its offices in the country two years ago. The United States and the European Union also consider the PKK a terrorist group.
It was the second round of Turkish strikes on northern Iraq this weekend. Late Friday and early Saturday, Turkish warplanes hit 31 targets in the Hakurk region of northern Iraq before returning. They "successfully completed the operation [and] safely returned to their bases," the Turkish military said.
Needless to say, the Iraqi government is none too pleased but since they too see the PKK as a terrorist group and have not been able to stop their cross border incursions into Turkey, their protests to these attacks have been muted and somewhat pro-forma.
And the Kurdish political parties, who might be expected to object strenuously, also are keeping fairly tight lipped about this attack. The line seems to be to play down the incursion since 1) there's nothing much the Iraqis can do about and they don't want to show their impotence; and 2) many Kurds are getting tired of the PKK whose presence invites these kinds of reprisals from Turkey.
This is a problem to be worked out by the Turks and the Iraqis with the US standing by as mediator if necessary.