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Last Updated:  Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 17:36 GMT
Ocalan's war warning
Kurdish fighters train in northern Iraq
The Kurds are ready to fight
Jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has warned Turkey it faces "100 years" of war if it enters Kurdish northern Iraq.

Turkey, which fears the creation of a Kurdish state, is expected to enter the north if Ankara finally allows the Americans access from its territory.

"A nationalist scramble will leave the Kurdish problem unsolved for a 100 years more," said Mr Ocalan, who led rebels inside Turkey's own Kurdish region until his capture in 1999.

The veteran Kurdish leader, who is serving a life sentence in Turkey after a trial condemned this week by the European Court of Human Rights, was speaking in a statement released through his lawyers.

He also appeared to be warning local Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq against "nationalist means".

Abullah Ocalan
Abdullah Ocalan

"This applies to Turkey and to Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani," he said.

If Turkey does intervene in northern Iraq, it will ostensibly be to stem a potential tide of refugees.

Kurdish groups in northern Iraq have enjoyed effective self-rule since Saddam Hussein's defeat in the Gulf War but do not have formal statehood for themselves.

Kurdish leaders have been warning they will not accept Turkish forces on their soil.

Turkey may also be planning to track down bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Mr Ocalan's group, believed to be located in northern Iraq.

Who's who in Iraqi Kurdistan
13 Jan 03 |  Media reports

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