Turkey rushes troops to Iraqi border

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


ANKARA [MENL] -- Turkey has rushed aircraft, helicopters and thousands of troops to the Iraqi border.

Turkish defense sources as well as Arab diplomats said Ankara has beefed up forces along its southern border with Iraq as part of preparations for any hostility in the region. The sources said Ankara fears a U.S. attack on Iraq or a drive by President Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Iraq.

Turkey has also begun patrols by fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters over northern Iraq in an effort to monitor the region. The Turkish military has established camps to accommodate thousands of additional troops who might be needed along the front.

The Turkish sources said air force and army units in the area have been warned to stay at their bases and be ready for any contingency.

Ankara has warned against any U.S. attack on Baghdad. Turkey has tried to improve diplomatic and trade relations with the Saddam regime.

At the same time, Turkish leaders are bracing for the prospect that Iraq will be the next target in the U.S.-led war against terrorism. But the leaders have warned against any attempt to establish a Kurdish state in northern Iraq.

One Turkish minister, Abdul Halouk Shai, has warned that a Kurdish state in northern Iraq would spark an immediate response from Ankara. Southeastern Turkey has a large Kurdish population.

The Turkish sources said Ankara has discussed the volatile situation in northern Iraq with both Britain and the United States.

On Tuesday, two Turkish soldiers were killed in a rocket attack in the eastern portion of the country. The attack was attributed to Kurdish insurgents.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 19, 2001

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