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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Turkish general seeks Iraq raids
Turkey's Chief of Staff Gen Yasar Buyukanit
Gen Buyukanit said a military offensive could inflict a blow on the PKK
The head of the Turkish armed forces has repeated his view that a military incursion into northern Iraq would help to defeat Kurdish rebels based there.

General Yasar Buyukanit told reporters at a news conference that the military needed guidelines from the government for any such cross-border operation.

Gen Buyukanit stressed the need for parliamentary approval for a serious incursion into northern Iraq.

The government says its priority is defeating rebels in Turkey itself.

BBC correspondents say attacks in Turkey by rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have increased recently, sometimes carried out by rebels based across the border in northern Iraq.

'Legal basis'

Gen Buyukanit's comments put pressure on Turkey's government to allow a military operation, just weeks before parliamentary polls in which security and terrorism issues will be high on the agenda.

"I have said that we need a cross-border operation and that this would bring benefits. I repeat this view now," he said.

"We have to conduct our fight on a legal basis. We cannot go beyond the laws," he added.

Turkey's parliament, now in recess ahead of the 22 July elections, would have to reconvene to authorise any serious cross-border military operation.

Political analysts say the generals are trying to portray the Islamist-rooted ruling AK Party as weak on terrorism.

AK, which denies any Islamist agenda, is widely expected to win re-election in July.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters last week that military action would be taken if necessary.

But any incursion would strain relations with Washington and Iraq, which oppose unilateral Turkish action.

More than 30,000 people have been killed in fighting between security forces and rebels of the outlawed PKK since the group launched its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.


SEE ALSO
Turkey-US move to combat rebels
30 Jan 07 |  Europe

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