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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Turkish army chief wants Iraq op
Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit
The general wants Iraqi-US support to tackle the PKK
The head of Turkey's powerful military has said Ankara should launch a military operation in northern Iraq to target Kurdish guerrillas based there.

Gen Yasar Buyukanit, chief of Turkey's general staff, urged the government to approve a cross-border incursion.

Turkey accuses the outlawed Kurdish group PKK of using bases in northern Iraq to launch attacks on Turkey.

The PKK has been fighting since 1984 to achieve autonomy for Turkey's Kurds.

Gen Buyukanit said 10 Turkish soldiers and 29 PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) rebels had died in clashes in recent days.

"An operation into Iraq is necessary," he told a news conference in Ankara on Thursday.

He acknowledged that a political decision would be required to authorise such an operation.

US caution

Turkey has previously launched raids on PKK strongholds in northern Iraq.

Gen Buyukanit accused the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq of allowing the PKK huge freedom of movement there.

The United States has repeatedly warned against any such move against the PKK, arguing it would destabilise the only relatively calm region in Iraq.

Gen Buyukanit said he had intelligence the PKK was planning to step up its attacks in Turkey, starting in May. The military has already launched large-scale operations in the mainly Kurdish southeast to prevent that.

Turkey's politicians have to authorise any military action overseas. Gen Buyukanit said he had not yet asked parliament for permission.

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