The Turkish military launched air and land operations against the PKK last week
Photo taken on October 22 shows a Turkish army convoy on a road in the province of Sirnak, near the Turkish-Iraqi border in southeastern Turkey. No Turkish forces have entered north Iraq, border guards and Kurdish rebels said on Tuesday, a day after Turkish security sources said troops, tanks and military vehicles had crossed the frontier. © Mustafa Ozer - AFP
The Turkish military launched air and land operations against the PKK last week
AFP
Last updated: October 25, 2011

Iraq border guards and PKK deny Turkey incursion

No Turkish forces have entered north Iraq, border guards and Kurdish rebels said on Tuesday, despite an eyewitness report that Turkish troops were moving through the country's northernmost province.

The conflicting reports came as hundreds of people, mainly Turkish Kurds living in Iraq, demonstrated in support of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebel group in Arbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

A day earlier, Turkish security sources said dozens of tanks and military vehicles crossed into Iraq.

"There has been no Turkish incursion by soldiers or Turkish forces onto Iraqi soil," said Colonel Hussein Tamer, head of the border guards for Dohuk along the border with Turkey.

Major General Ahmed Fadheleddin, who leads border guards in neighbouring Arbil province, added: "Until now, there has been no incursion."

Arbil and Dohuk are the two provinces of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region that share a border with Turkey.

"Turkish forces have not entered Kurdistan's soil," added Ahmed Denis, spokesman for the PKK, which maintains bases in Iraq's Kurdish region and is the target of Turkish forces.

But Fawzi Ibrahim Mohammed, 50, who lives in the town of Uri in Dohuk province, said that Turkish forces entered the village on Tuesday morning.

"At about 11:30 am (0830 GMT), a large number of Turkish forces entered our village... and they are still coming," he said

"Until now there are no clashes between the Turkish forces and the PKK," he said. "The PKK have no bases in the town."

Turkish security sources said on Monday that some 20 tanks and 30 military trucks had entered Iraqi soil from Siyahkaya village, and Turkish warplanes bombed the Haftanin region.

They added that Turkish troops were sent by helicopter to Zab, and were aiming to enter Sinaht, which is close to Haftanin.

About 300 people, many of them Turkish Kurds living in Iraq, demonstrated against the Turkish attacks on Tuesday in Arbil, an AFP journalist reported.

They carried pictures of people who they said had been killed by Turkish forces, and PKK flags.

The Turkish military launched air and land operations against the PKK after the separatist group's guerrillas killed 24 soldiers and wounded 18 along the Iraqi border last Wednesday, the army's biggest losses since 1993.

Some 10,000 troops on the ground were believed to be involved in Turkey's operations, backed by jets and helicopters, inside Turkey and across the border. Military officials did not say how many soldiers had entered Iraq.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms for Kurdish independence in southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

Turkey's last ground incursion into northern Iraq, an autonomous Kurdish region, was in February 2008, when the army struck against the Zab region.

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