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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Turkish govt. allows military to attack separatists in N. Iraq

RIA Novosti

30/11/2007 19:39 ANKARA, November 30 (RIA Novosti) - Turkey's government has authorized the military to conduct a cross-border operation against Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, the prime minister said on Friday.

Tayyip Erdogan's announcement follows a parliamentary resolution in mid-October, but does not mean the operation against an estimated 3,500 Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) separatists hiding in Iraq is imminent, according to analysts.

"We made the decision at a government session on November 28. It was approved by the president, and the military are now authorized to conduct an operation," Erdogan said.

Turkey's military have repeatedly said they are ready for the operation and are only waiting for an order to start the attack. The country has deployed about 100,000 troops on the border with Iraq.

Turkey, a NATO member with European Union membership aspirations, has sought to end attacks from northern Iraq carried out by PKK rebels fighting for a Kurdish autonomy in Turkey's southeast. The long-running conflict with the PKK has claimed the lives of about 40,000 people since 1984.

The United States has advised against military action in the relatively stable region of Iraq, but has agreed to share military intelligence with Turkey on the PKK.

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