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DATE=9/29/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=TURKEY / KURDS (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-254465 BYLINE=AMBERIN ZAMAN DATELINE=ANKARA CONTENT= VOICED AT: /// EDS: RE-ISSUING 2-254456 TO FIX SEQUENCE OF EVENTS THROUGHOUT /// Intro: At least five-thousand Turkish troops backed by helicopter gunships have crossed into northern Iraq in pursuit of rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or P-K-K. Amberin Zaman in Ankara reports the offensive comes as the Kurdish rebels reject Turkish calls for them to surrender unconditionally. TEXT: Members of a pro-Turkish Kurdish militia and an Iraqi Kurdish faction allied with Ankara are taking part in the offensive, which is concentrated near Haftanin and Metina along Turkey's border with northern Iraq. The troops were sent to help Turkish forces already in the region. Turkey maintains a year round military presence in the Kurdish-controlled enclave in northern Iraq in an attempt to stop P-K-K guerrillas from launching cross-border attacks against Turkish targets. Turkish officials describe the offensive as "routine." It comes as the P-K-K's imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan warned that unless Turkey responded to his recent peace proposals, violence in the largely Kurdish southeast provinces could -- in his words -- spin out of control. Ocalan has made a series of conciliatory gestures since a Turkish court sentenced him to death on treason charges last June. Critics of his movement say the gestures are aimed at persuading Turkish authorities to spare his life. But Ocalan insists his only aim is to secure a lasting peace between Turks and Kurds. He has called on his followers to abandon their armed struggle for Kurdish self-rule and to withdraw from Turkish territory. Last week, Ocalan appealed to a group of his followers to surrender to Turkish authorities. But the Turkish military says it will keep up its campaign against the P-K-K until what it describes as "every last terrorist" is neutralized. Turkish officials say the P-K-K's peace overtures are designed to hide what they term its near total defeat at the hands of the powerful Turkish army. Against this background, analysts say, hopes are dwindling for an early end to the 15-year insurgency, which has claimed more than 30-thousand lives. In a statement carried Wednesday by the German-based Kurdish news agency, D-E-M, the P-K-K declared it would never surrender and accused the Turkish military of pursuing a policy of "war over peace, surrender over freedom, and oppression over democracy." (Signed) NEB/AZ/JWH/ENE/JP 29-Sep-1999 12:47 PM EDT (29-Sep-1999 1647 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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