Kurdish troops surround Turks in worst confrontation yet in
Leila Fadel and Yasseen Taha
McClatchy Newspapers last updated: February 21, 2008 07:52:44 PM
BAGHDAD — Iraqi Kurdish troops on Thursday encircled Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq and threatened to open fire in the most serious standoff between the two nation's forces since Turkey threatened late last year to go after guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers Party sheltering in Iraq.
The standoff began when Turkish troops in tanks and armored vehicles left one of five bases they've had in
Kurdish soldiers from the peshmerga militia, which is loyal to the Kurdish Regional Government, moved to stop them. For an hour and a half, the two sides faced off before the Turkish soldiers retreated to their base, which is about 27 miles northeast of the city of
The Turkish troop movement was accompanied by artillery and airstrikes that targeted mountain areas held by rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is known by its initials as the PKK. A spokesman for the peshmerga, Jabar Yawar, said the shelling began at about 11 a.m. and continued past midnight. Two bridges were knocked out over the
"This is a matter of the sovereignty of
Bakir said the regional government has tightened security at checkpoints, airports and hospitals to stop PKK movements, but that the Turkish military has continued its buildup. He called for the Iraqi central government and
"We have to do something," said a senior Iraqi official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue. "We cannot keep quiet and keep digging our heads in the sand."
The growing tension between
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