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Turkey military blasts NATO allies for support of Kurdish rebels

RIA Novosti

31/05/2007 14:02 ANKARA, May 31 (RIA Novosti) - The Turkish chief of general staff accused Thursday some NATO allies of providing assistance to Kurdish separatists in the southeast of the country, but did not specify the targets of his criticism.

"A number of our allies [in NATO] support terrorism," Army General Yasr Buyukanit said at an international military symposium in Istanbul. "It [terrorism] is supported by those who give us lessons on human rights."

The Turkish Army has been conducting large-scale operations in different parts of southeast Turkey against the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization, for many years.

In a recent spate of bomb attacks linked to Kurdish insurgents, at least 20 people have been killed and over 100 injured, threatening to destabilize the political situation in Turkey, which will hold general elections on July 22.

Kurdish separatists blew up a bus stop at a Turkish Mediterranean resort in September last year, killing ten people. Turkey's worst terrorist attack in recent years was a 2003 bombing of the British consular building, a bank, and two synagogues in Istanbul, which killed 58.

The majority of Kurdish militants, about 3,500 men, are based in northern Iraq bordering Turkey, making periodic incursions into Turkish territory, which have intensified recently.

Yasr Buyukanit said in mid-April it was necessary to carry out a military operation against Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq.

"An operation in North Iraq is imperative. It requires political will," Buyukanit said at the time, adding the Turkish Army had evidence the PKK plans to intensify terrorist activity in Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with NTV television Wednesday that a decision on a military operation in northern Iraq could be made only after a written request from the General Staff has been received by the government.

"The political branch of power makes the final decision on a military operation [in northern Iraq], and we will consider it when we receive a relevant request from the military," Erdogan said.

But the Turkish army chief said Thursday no additional documents were necessary to convince the government of the large-scale military action against the Kurdish separatists.

"We will not send any written requests to the government," NTV television quoted Yasr Buyukanit as saying. "We voiced our position [on the military operation] on April 12."

According to Turkish media, the Turkish army has recently deployed additional armor and artillery units on the border with Iraq and conducted "pinpoint" strikes at Kurdish militants in the area, killing about 15 separatists in the last three days.

Over 37,000 people have been killed in the conflict between Turkey and the PKK, which has been fighting for a so called independent Kurdistan in the southeast of the country since 1984.

Turkish authorities are categorically refusing to open dialogue with the separatists and are determined to use force to eliminate the PKK.

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