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Turkish Forces Shell Northern Iraq

Sherko Raouf, Reuters, Iraqi Solidarity News (Al-Thawra) | 03.06.2007 17:37 | Iraq | Repression | Workers' Movements

Iraq said Turkish forces shelled a mountain stronghold of Turkish Kurd rebels in the north of the country on Sunday, a day after it urged Turkey to use diplomacy to resolve rising tensions in the region.

While residents say Turkey shells the area almost daily, the latest attack came days after Turkey moved tanks to its border and speculation mounted that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government is planning a military incursion.

"There were some strikes from Turkish forces on areas next to the Turkish border, but until now there has been no Turkish military invasion of Kurdish lands in Iraq," Masoud Barzani, president of Iraq's Kurdistan region, told a news conference.

Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, also a Kurd, told the same briefing that "we do not accept interference in others' affairs and we do not accept interference in our affairs".

The Turkish shelling targeted Haji Umran, a mountainous area which fighters of Turkey's separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) use as a springboard to carry out attacks in Turkey.

Residents told Reuters the attack lasted about 30 minutes and caused no casualties.

On Saturday, Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Turkey should not resort to "threats, forces and weapons" as this would only worsen the situation. He made no reference to Turkey's repeated request for U.S. and Iraqi troops to hunt down the rebels.

Kurdistan, a mostly stable region that comprises three of Iraq's 18 provinces, is largely outside the control of Maliki's government in Baghdad and runs its own affairs.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a trip to Asia, echoed Maliki's comments, urging Turkey not to undertake "unilateral military action".

The PKK has waged an armed struggle since 1984 for an independent Kurdish homeland in Turkey's east and southeast. Ankara blames it for the deaths of more than 30,000 people.

Erdogan has said he sees eye to eye with the military over the need for possible military action in northern Iraq.

Sherko Raouf, Reuters, Iraqi Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)
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