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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Turkish army starts operation in northern Iraq

RIA Novosti

01/12/2007 19:25 ANKARA, December 1 (RIA Novosti) - The Turkish army started a military operation against about 60 rebels in northern Iraq Saturday, the Turkish General Staff reported.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Friday the government authorized the military to conduct a cross-border operation against Kurdish separatists in Iraq's north.

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

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 earlier 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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