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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 December 2007, 03:57 GMT
Iraq Kurds warn Turkey over raids
Iraqis inspect the damage following air strikes by Turkish warplanes in Qandil, northern Iraq, 16 December 2007
Thousands are said to have fled the areas under attack
The president of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq has warned Turkey to halt its strikes against rebel Kurdish positions in the border area.

Massoud Barzani said he "vehemently condemned" the bombardments, which he said had killed innocent people.

His remarks came as US President George W Bush and Turkey's PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the unrest by phone.

Turkish jets have carried out three strikes on Kurdish targets and one ground foray over the past eight days.

Turkey blames rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) for launching attacks on Turkey from bases in Iraq.

Ankara approved cross-border raids on PKK bases in October, saying the Iraqi government and its US backers were not doing enough to halt attacks.

Formal complaint

"The bombing targeted safe and secure areas and innocent people," Mr Barzani told a news conference in the northern city of Suleimaniya.

MOUNTING BORDER TENSION
7 Oct PKK rebels kill 13 Turkish troops near Iraqi border
17 Oct - Turkish MPs allow military operations in Iraq
21 Oct - 12 Turkish troops die in PKK ambush near Iraqi border
30 Nov - Turkish cabinet backs PKK pursuits in Iraq
13 Nov - Turkey shells PKK targets in Iraq, Baghdad says
1 Dec - Turkish army targets rebels in Iraq, inflicting "heavy losses"
16 Dec - Turkish jets bomb PKK targets in Iraq for the first time
18 Dec - Some 300 Turkish troops cross over into northern Iraq
22 Dec - Turkish jets bomb PKK targets in Iraq a second time
23 Dec - Turkish planes strike for a third time

"Several people were either killed or wounded. We held consultations with [Iraqi] President Jalal Talabani and we will continue our consultations with other concerned parties to put an end to these aggressions and put an end to the shelling of villages."

Mr Talabani - also a Kurd - was standing beside Mr Barzani as he delivered the condemnation.

He said his government had lodged a formal complaint with Turkey - but that he did not want to worsen tensions over the issue.

Turkey's ambassador to Iraq has been summoned to the foreign ministry to hear a formal complaint, reports the BBC's Humphrey Hawkesley in Baghdad.

Up to 10 people are reported to have been killed in the strikes - it is not known whether they are rebels or civilians.

As many as 2,000 people have fled the areas under attack.

US support

In a telephone conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, US President George W Bush reiterated his backing for Turkey's operations against PKK rebels, said a White House spokesman.

They discussed "the importance of the United States, Turkey and Iraq working together to confront the PKK", said national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Last month at a meeting in the White House, Mr Bush told Mr Erdogan the US would share its intelligence to help Turkey fight the rebels based in northern Iraq.

A co-ordination centre has now been set up in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Washington has previously urged the Turks to show restraint in their policies, fearing large-scale incursions across the border could destabilise the entire region.

The PKK - which is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, and the EU - is thought to have about 3,000 rebels based in Iraq.

For decades, it has been fighting for a Kurdish homeland separate from Turkey.



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Massoud Barzani condemns Turkey for the raids





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