Turkey hunts PKK rebels after Iraqi talks fail

Turkish and Iraqi officials reject plans for further talks to seek an agreement on cracking down on Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq.

Image Credit:AP
A Turkish soldier patrols in the province of Sirnak, on the Turkish-Iraqi border, southeastern Turkey.
Gulf News

Ankara: Turkish military planes scoured the Iraqi border for Kurdish rebel camps on Saturday after officials said there were no plans for further talks between Turkey and an Iraqi delegation visiting Ankara to seek an agreement on cracking down on Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq.

Turkey rejected a series of proposals offered by a high-level Iraqi delegation on Friday, led by Defence Minister General Abdel Qader Jassim, as insufficient and taking too long to take effect. The delegation was in Ankara to try to avert a possible major cross-border operation by Turkey against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas.

Turkey has massed up to 100,000 troops on the frontier before a possible cross-border operation against about 3,000 PKK guerrillas, who launch deadly attacks into Turkey from Iraq.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said Turkey will not tolerate any more PKK attacks from Iraq and has called for immediate steps by US and Iraqi authorities in order to prevent a military operation.

A senior Turkish diplomat, who declined to be named, said the Iraqi delegation had offered proposals that included cutting logistical support to the PKK, limiting their movements and closing offices linked to them.

Ankara wants PKK guerrillas, including their leaders, handed over and for their camps in northern Iraq to be shut down. Iraq says it has no control over the separatist fighters.

Kurdish rebels said they are considering a lawmaker's request for the release of eight Turkish soldiers captured just under a week ago, an incident that increased already heightened tensions in the area bordering Iraq.

Meanwhile, 1,500 people, mostly children, took to the streets of the predominantly Kurdish city of Sirnak, in southeastern Turkey to protest the recent surge in rebel violence.