Friday, February 22, 2008

Turkish troops launch raids into Iraq

Thousands of Turkish troops have crossed into northern Iraq to attack suspected terrorist hideouts in the Kurdish region of the country. Turkey said so far five of their troops have been killed along with "dozens" of Kurdish rebels.

Turkey has accused Iraq of letting the Kurdish Workers Party (or PKK) use the north of the country as a safe haven to launch attacks into Turkey. The PKK has fought for nearly a quarter of a century to carve out a Kurdish homeland in southeastern Turkey. The EU and US have agreed with Turkey's designation of the PKK as a terrorist organization.

Turkey had been launching airstrikes on suspected PKK hideouts in Iraq for the past several months, though this is the first time a large number of ground troops have been used (up to 10,000 troops are involved in the current operation). Turkey's goal is to destroy PKK bases before the spring thaw, when travel in the heavily mountainous region becomes easier and PKK activity in Turkey usually increases.

The United States and UN are both asking Turkey to show restraint in their raids and to avoid civilian casualties.
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