Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, pictured on October 3, arrived in Ankara Wednesday for talks with Turkish leaders to boost the fight against Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq, the Anatolia news agency reported. © Ali al-Saadi - AFP/File
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari
AFP
Last updated: October 13, 2011

Iraqi FM in Ankara to discuss fight against Kurdish rebels

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari arrived in Ankara Wednesday for talks with Turkish leaders to boost the fight against Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Zebari was to call on President Abdullah Gul before huddling with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu over a working dinner.

Last week, Turkey's parliament extended the government's mandate to order military strikes against Kurdish rebels holed up in neighbouring Iraq.

A surge of attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) also targeting civilians are piling pressure on Ankara, which has threatened to launch an incursion into northern Iraq to root out rebel bases.

Ankara has repeatedly urged the Iraqi government not to allow its territory to be used as a springboard by the PKK for attacks in Turkey.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay reiterated Wednesday that "if necessary, a ground operation will take place" to dislodge the estimated 2,000 Kurdish rebels from northern Iraq.

But authorities in Baghdad as well the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq are urging Ankara not to intervene militarily and have pledged to take all necessary measures against PKK fighters.

Turkish warplanes have bombed rebel bases in northern Iraq several times since August, killing between 145 and 160 rebels, according to the general staff.

The air strikes have threathened relations with neighbouring Iraq, which summoned Turkey's ambassador in August to demand an immediate end to the attacks after it was alleged that Turkish bombings killed civilians.

Zebari, a Kurd himself, is expected to hold a press conference with Davutoglu Thursday .

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeast Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.

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