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Last Updated: Monday, 17 December 2007, 14:19 GMT
US denies backing Turkey PKK raid
A villager looks through the rubble of Qlatuka village (16 December 2007)
The Turkish military said only "terrorist" targets were targeted
The US has denied it gave permission for Turkish aircraft to carry out air strikes against Kurdish PKK separatist rebels in northern Iraq on Sunday.

A US official in Turkey said commanders had not approved the attacks, but had been informed before they took place.

The Turkish military earlier said the US had given tacit approval by opening Iraqi airspace for the operation.

Iraqi officials said the bombs hit 10 villages near the border, killing one woman. The PKK reported seven deaths.

Iraq later summoned the Turkish ambassador and demanded a halt to the strikes, saying they were unacceptable and could seriously harm relations between the two countries.

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.


The Turkish military said its air strikes on Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) bases deep inside northern Iraq were launched at 0200 on Sunday (2300 GMT Saturday).

During an operation lasting three hours, targets were hit in Zap, Hakurk and Avasin, as well as areas in the Kandil mountains. Turkish media reports said up to 50 planes were involved in the operation.

We have not approved any decision, it is not for us to approve
US embassy in Baghdad

The Turkish military said only "terrorist" targets were hit, but the PKK said five of their fighters and two civilians were killed, while local Iraqi officials said 10 villages were attacked and one woman killed.

Afterwards, Turkey's most senior general, Gen Yasar Buyukanit, said the US had given "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.

An official at the US embassy in Ankara who was asked to comment on the general's remarks said US military commanders had merely known the raid was going to take place.

"We have not approved any decision, it is not for us to approve. However, we were informed before the event," the official told Reuters news agency.

The US has urged Turkey to step back from a major operation against the PKK in northern Iraq because it fears military action could destabilise what has become one of the most peaceful and prosperous regions of the country.


The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hailed the raids a "success" and said his government was determined to use all political and military means, both inside and outside Turkey, against the PKK.

Click to view a detailed map of the border region

Ankara toughened its line against the group 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.

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.

Air raids on northern Iraq

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