BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 16 December 2007, 23:55 GMT
'US backed' Turkish raids on Iraq
Turkish troops near the border with Iraq (file picture)
Turkish troops have been at the Iraq border since October
Turkey's air strikes against Kurdish rebels in Iraq on Sunday were approved by the United States in advance, the Turkish military has said.

The country's top general, Yasar Buyukanit, said the US opened northern Iraqi airspace for the operation.

Jets targeted the Kurdish rebel PKK in areas near the border. The Turkish media said up to 50 planes were used.

Iraqi officials said the bombs hit 10 villages, leaving one woman dead, while the PKK reported seven deaths.

The Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, told the BBC that his government had told the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad that the air strikes were "unacceptable".

We hope it's the last one, and will not be repeated, because this can lead to a galvanisation of the situation and the rise of tension and emotions in the region
Hoshyar Zebari
Iraqi Foreign Minister

"There has been previous understanding that any such action should be co-ordinated with the Iraqi government or with the multinational forces," he told BBC's Newshour programme.

"From what we've learned, they gave a very late notice for their operation, and those targeted villages... were not PKK infrastructure."

Mr Zebari said Iraq did not want to see any further Turkish air strikes on its territory because they might lead to a "galvanisation of the situation and the rise of tension and emotions in the region".

But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed them a "success".

Turkey has regularly targeted the PKK inside Iraq in recent months, but this is thought to be the first fighter jet raid outside its own territory.

'No refuge'

General Buyukanit said the US "gave intelligence" that aided the operation.

"But what is more important is that the United States last night opened northern Iraqi airspace to us. By doing that, the United States approved the operation," he said.

He said winter conditions in the mountainous region would be no obstacle for the Turkish military.

Click to view a detailed map of the border region

"The Turkish armed forces have given the message to the Turkish public and the world that whether it is winter or summer, we will find and hit them even if they live in caves," he added.

Turkish planes hit the regions of Zap, Hakurk and Avasin as well as areas in the Kandil mountains in an operation lasting three hours, the Turkish military said. Artillery barrages followed.

It said only "terrorist" targets, and not civilians, were hit.

Local officials in northern Iraq spoke of families fleeing their homes.

Pro-Kurdish media initially reported the death of one woman and the wounding of five other civilians in a village near the Kandil mountains.

The PKK itself reportedly announced on an internet site that five of its fighters and two civilians had been killed in the mountain area, with two fighters wounded.

"Many civilians, among them women and children" were also wounded, the group was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

There was no confirmation of the figures.

Troops massed

Ankara toughened its line against the PKK after a spate of rebel attacks inside Turkey that prompted widespread calls for action.

In October, Turkey's parliament voted to allow the military to launch operations into Iraq to combat the PKK, which had stepped up attacks in Turkey.

Ankara has massed up to 100,000 troops near the mountainous border with northern Iraq, backed by tanks, artillery and warplanes.

But Iraq and the US have urged Turkey not to carry out its threat.

As many as 3,000 PKK members are believed to be based inside northern Iraq. Turkey has accused the local Kurdish authorities of supporting them - which they deny.

Are you in the area targeted by the Turkish air force? Send us your account using the form below.

You can send pictures and video to: or text them to +44 7725 100 100 If you have a large file you can upload here. Click here to see terms and conditions

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

Your E-mail address
Town & Country

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

Air raids on northern Iraq

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific