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Turkey army launches land offensive into Iraq

作者:Agencies | 来源:网络转摘 | 时间:2008-02-22
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    ANKARA - Turkey's military said on Friday it had launched a cross-border land offensive backed by fighter jets into northern Iraq on Thursday evening to hunt down Kurdish PKK guerrillas. Turkish television reported, without citing sources, that 10,000 troops had entered Iraqi territory. NTV said troops had moved 10 km (6 miles) inside Iraq.

     The Turkish Armed Forces, which attach great importance to Iraq's territorial integrity and stability, will return home in the shortest time possible after its goals have been achieved," the General Staff said in a statement posted on its Web site. The military's General Staff said the cross-border offensive was launched at 7 p.m. (12:00 p.m. EST) on Thursday. A senior US official said the land incursion was "not the greatest news." "A land operation is a whole new level," Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza told reporters in Brussels.

     He said Washington had been cooperating fully with Turkey in providing intelligence on PKK positions in northern Iraq since last November to enable the Turkish air force to make pinpointed attacks minimizing civilian casualties. The European Union and the United States have in the past raised concern that a major cross-border offensive could destabilize the region, though have not criticized recent small-scale cross-border raids over the past two months.

     In Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said his government was not aware of any Turkish ground offensive. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on his Turkish counterpart on Thursday evening to respect Iraq's borders after renewed shelling. President Jalal Talabani accepted an invitation from Turkish President Abdullah Gul to visit Turkey.

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