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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK
Turkey threatens Iraq border raid
Turkish tanks head for the Iraqi border
Turkey has begun preparations for a cross-border operation

The Turkish government is seeking parliamentary approval for a possible cross-border military operation to hunt down Kurdish separatists in Iraq.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is under pressure to act from a Turkish public outraged by rebel attacks that have killed 15 soldiers since Sunday.

Iraq said that the best way to confront the rebels was through a security accord signed with Turkey last month.

The US also warned Turkey against making an incursion into northern Iraq.

"If they have a problem, they need to work together to resolve it and I am not sure that unilateral incursions are the way to go," said state department spokesman Sean McCormack.

White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe told the BBC the US understood Turkish concerns about the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is believed to be behind the attacks.

But he added: "We will continue to urge a dialogue between the Turks and the Iraqis on this very important matter."

Tougher action

Correspondents say there are fears both in Baghdad and Washington that a military operation by Turkey could destabilise northern Iraq.

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Many PKK rebels are believed to be hiding in northern Iraq.

On Tuesday Mr Erdogan chaired a meeting of senior officials to discuss tougher action against the PKK, including the possibility of military incursions into northern Iraq.

Ankara claims the organisation is a terrorist group that enjoys free movement in northern Iraq, where it has easy access to weapons and explosives.

"The order has been given for every kind of measure, including if needed a cross-border operation," said a statement released by Mr Erdogan's office.

Turkish Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul said parliamentary approval would be needed for any large-scale military incursion into northern Iraq.

But, he added, no such parliamentary authorisation would be required for more limited, "hot pursuit" cross-border operations.



SEE ALSO
Turkey-Iraq agree security pact
28 Sep 07 |  Middle East
'Kurd attack' kills 12 in Turkey
30 Sep 07 |  Middle East

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