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 US backs Turkey's ground offensive against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan

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US backs Turkey's ground offensive against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan  21.10.2011  

US backs Turkey's 'right to self-defense'

October 21, 2011

WASHINGTON, — The United States said Thursday that it supported Turkey after it sent its military into Iraqi Kurdistan region to strike at Kurdish PKK rebels in retaliation for an attack that killed 24 Turkish soldiers.

"We very clearly support Turkey's right to self-defense," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

"At the same time, there needs to be cooperation between Turkey and Iraq and there is in fact a mechanism in place for that cooperation to occur, the Trilateral Security Dialogue," he said.        

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner
Toner was referring to a committee set up in 2008 by Ankara, Baghdad and Washington to take up the issue of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), long an irritant in Turkey's ties with Iraq and by extension the United States.

Turkey said it was sending in 22 battalions against PKK forces in Iraqi Kurdistan region, using both air and ground power. Analysts said the incursion entailed 10,000 to 15,000 troops.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday condemned the "outrageous terrorist attack" by the PKK and officials said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke by telephone to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Turkey launched a cross-border offensive against the PKK after the group staged simultaneous attacks on Turkish military and police targets along the border on Wednesday, killing 24 Turkish soldiers and wounding 18 others.

Since August 17, Turkish jets repeatedly carried out air strikes against the Kurdish PKK separatist group's bases in Iraqi Kurdistan region, under justification of chasing elements of the anti-Ankara PKK, forcing large numbers of Kurdish citizens of those areas to desert their home villages, including an air raid that killed 7 Kurdish civilians in a village north of Kurdistan’s Sulaimaniyah city on August 21st.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, AFP | | Agencies


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