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Iraq border guards and PKK deny Turkey incursion

25 october 2011, 17:05
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, AFP reports.

"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 province in north Iraq 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 Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebel group, which maintains bases in Iraq's Kurdish region and is the target of Turkish forces.

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.

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 on 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 Zap region.

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