Success Of Iraq Incursion Questioned

March 6th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Success Of Iraq Incursion Questioned

Washington Times
March 6, 2008
Pg. 9
New cross-border action feared
By Andrew Borowiec, The Washington Times
NICOSIA, Cyprus Confusing signals from the Turkish military cast doubt on the success of the eight-day incursion into Iraq amid signs that a new similar action is planned, according to diplomatic reports.
The Turkish army has fallen short of its objectives, said Western and Arab reports from Ankara, referring to official statements that 240 Kurdish rebels had been killed or about 10 percent of the forces of the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
The incursion into the snowbound, mist-shrouded mountains was ended Friday with congratulations of the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and official denials that the withdrawal of thousands of armor-backed troops of NATO'S second-largest army had nothing to do with Washington's pressure.
Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, chief of the Turkish General Staff, said that if it is proved that the army left Iraq because of U.S. opposition to the operation, "I will take off this uniform."
Since last summer, the military had demanded permission to enter Iraq in "hot pursuit" of the Marxist rebels blamed for about 40,000 deaths in the 25-year struggle.
The United States and the Iraqi government opposed the incursion, fearing that it would further destabilize the area without achieving satisfactory results.
The latest statements by senior Turkish generals to the Turkish press confirmed that the results of the operation had fallen short of its target and that a new incursion was being considered, despite warnings from Washington and Baghdad.
"There are more lessons we need to teach the PKK," the Turkish press quoted Gen. Buyukanit as saying. "We will continue; we will try to inflict heavier blows on the PKK."
Yesterday, Turkey again launched air strikes on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, the Associated Press reported. Saleh Ali, a captain in the Iraqi border guards, told the AP that Turkish aircraft bombarded Dashti Barzji, an uninhabited area in Irbil province about 15 miles from the border. He said there were no reports of casualties or damage.
The private Turkish station NTV cited unnamed Iraqi Kurdish officials as saying Turkish helicopters had attacked in the region of Sidekan, 30 miles south of the border.
For years, the PKK has been using bases in northern Iraq for hit-and-run attacks on Turkish territory in its war.
Bomb and machine-gun attacks on Turkish soldiers, civilians and seaside resorts have been dogging Turkey with varying degrees of intensity, and the government's repression of the Kurds becoming a major impediment to Turkey's European Union membership.
Last October, the Turkish parliament approved the government's request for a cross-border pursuit of the Kurdish rebel fighters. The PKK and two smaller organizations, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons and Pejak, are considered terrorists not only by Turkey but also by the United States and the European Union.
Since a short-lived cease-fire in 1999, the three organizations have suffered from a shortage of recruits and weapons, with their strength in southern Turkey falling from about 10,000 to fewer than 5,000, according to Western analysts.

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