Wednesday, October 17, 2007


PKK leader says the group will defend itself from Turkey

(Al Jazeera) - The head of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) military operations in northern Iraq has told Al Jazeera that the group will confront Turkish forces if they are attacked. Murat Karayilan gave his statement a day before Turkey's parliament was to meet to decide whether to sanction military operations against PKK bases inside Iraq.
"If Turkey is going to use violence against our movement, our leader and our people, then we will respond," Karayilan said on Tuesday. Iraq's government said on Wednesday that it will send a delegation to Turkey to show that it is committed to stopping PKK fighters operating in Iraq. Karayilan said Turkey was using the threat of military action against the PKK to put pressure on Iraqi Kurdistan. Ankara has been angered by a series of recent attacks by the PKK inside Turkey in which dozens of soldiers and civilians have been killed.
He was speaking from his camp in the Qandil mountains straddling the Iraq-Turkey border.
On Tuesday, Tareq al-Hashemi, Iraq's deputy president, arrived in Ankara for talks with Turkish leaders. Al-Hashemi appealed to Turkey for more time to tackle Kurdish separatist fighters rebels based in northern Iraq, Anatolia news agency reported on Wednesday. "Give us time to join forces with Turkey to tackle this problem, which harms the national security of both countries," Anatolia quoted Hashemi as saying. "If the Iraqi government fails to meet its responsibilities, Turkey will be justified in doing what is necessary to protect its security interests."
James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Baghdad, said that whatever Baghdad says, the final decision rests with Kurdish political leaders as the embattled central Iraqi government has little authority in the Kurdish north of the country.
Karayilan said PKK fighters were not crossing the border to carry out attacks on Turkish territory. "It is not true that we are crossing the border. We have fighters everywhere. It is not necessary to send them from here. "Their [Turkey's] aim is to attack Iraqi Kurds."
The PKK leader in Iraq said Turkey was also hoping to put pressure on the US after a congressional panel said last week that mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I was genocide - a charge Turkey denies. Turkey blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since the group launched its armed struggle for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.

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