Northern Iraq: Turkish troops move in, US bombs Ansar al-Islam targets
Turkey sent some 1,500 troops into northern Iraq on Friday to bolster its military presence and promised to send more to prevent Iraqi Kurds from creating an independent state.
The United States strongly opposes any unilateral move by Turkey into northern Iraq, fearing it would disrupt the U.S. campaign to oust Saddam Hussein. Iraqi Kurds have threatened attacks on any invading Turkish forces.
"We don't see any need for any Turkish incursions into northern Iraq," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday. Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, however, insisted Turkey was determined to send in a large force.
"Turkish soldiers will go in," Gul told reporters. He said Turkey's objectives were "Iraq's territorial integrity" and containing within Iraq any refugee flow caused by the war.
"Turkey has no designs whatsoever on Iraq's territory," Gul said.
Gul's statement came after Turkey agreed to allow U.S. overflights for the war, held up because of differences over Turkish troop deployments in Iraq.
In a related development, US forces fired five missiles Friday night at the base of the Islamic group Ansar al-Islam in northern Iraq. This is the group that the U.S. tried to connect to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda group.
A high-level Kurdish official has said that his forces are preparing a ground assault against Ansar al-Islam which is anticipated to start within hours. (Albawaba.com)
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