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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Turkey urges U.S. to help crush Kurdish militants

RIA Novosti

30/10/2007 17:14 ANKARA, October 30 (RIA Novosti) - Turkey expects urgent action from the United States to destroy Kurdish insurgent bases in north Iraq, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

"We expect the U.S. to take urgent, concrete steps against terrorist bases," the premier told Turkey's parliament.

Erdogan is set to meet with U.S. President George Bush in Washington on November 5 to discuss the issue.

"Turkey's patience has run out. We will discuss with the United States countries that are harboring terrorists, as well as measures that are necessary to fight terrorism," Erdogan said.

The premier's speech comes on the second day of Turkish helicopter and rocket attacks on Kurdish rebel positions in the mountainous Sirnak Province, near the Iraqi border. Ground forces have also moved into the region.

Turkey's parliament sanctioned military cross-border operations against the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), based in northern Iraq, following an earlier government request and despite opposition from Washington and Baghdad. Turkey has now amassed up to 150,000 troops in anticipation of a major cross-border military operation against around 3,500 PKK insurgents based in Iraq.

The prime minister said Ankara would continue to use diplomacy to resolve the problem of Kurdish separatism, but does not rule out a cross-border operation against the PKK.

Turkey is not receiving adequate support in fighting terror from leading world and regional powers, he said.

The Turkish ambassador to Russia stressed on Tuesday that the goal of Turkey's likely military operation in Iraq will be to wipe out Kurdish separatists, not occupy Iraqi territories.

"Once the goal has been achieved, Turkish troops will return to Turkey. There is no intention to occupy or seize Iraqi territory," Kurtulus Taskent told a RIA Novosti news conference.

An attack involving F-16 fighter-bombers, Cobra attack helicopters, and heavy artillery has continued for over 30 hours, Turkey's NTV channel said.

The Turkish army said on Monday it had captured 100 Kurdish rebels near the border. Monday's fighting coincided with the 84th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, which the country marked with large-scale military parades.

A total of three Turkish troops have died in clashes with insurgents on the boreder since Monday morning. A fourth was killed by a mine in the Tunceli Province, in west-central Turkey.

The PKK, classed by the U.S., NATO and the EU as a terrorist organization, has been fighting for autonomy status in southeast Turkey for nearly 25 years. The conflict has so far claimed about 40,000 lives, including 80 Kurdish militants killed in special operations conducted by the Turkish army near the border with Iraq last week.

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