Turkey strikes targets in northern Iraq
Turkish forces have shelled suspected Kurdish positions in Iraq, a government official said Wednesday, as military and civilian leaders gathered to discuss the scope and duration of a cross-border raid.
Turkish artillery units were shelling the positions as late as Tuesday night in northern Iraq, a government official said, according to the AP. The strikes were in retaliation for an ambush on Sunday that killed 12 soldiers and apparently led to the capture of eight.
Local media have reported that Turkish jets have struck targets inside of Iraq since Sunday's attack, but the government official denied that air power was used.
Abdul-Rahman al-Chadarchi, a PKK spokesman, told The Associated Press by telephone that there were no Turkish attacks on PKK positions Sunday or Monday, but that they came under a helicopter assault that started Tuesday and continued Wednesday near Besta in the Chernak Mountain region inside Turkey. Kurdish officials had already confirmed the artillery attacks inside Iraq.
Al-Chadarchi said his men suffered no casualties, calling Turkish claims to the contrary "lies and Turkish propaganda."
Turkish leaders face growing demands at home to stage an offensive in northern Iraq. A high-level delegation from Iraq was expected to visit Ankara on Thursday, the state-run Anatolia news agency said. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, returning late Tuesday from meetings in Baghdad, said: "We said that we are expecting them to come with concrete proposals ... otherwise the visit will have no meaning."
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday ordered the closure of all offices belonging to the PKK in Iraq and said they would not be allowed to operate in Iraqi territory. But Babacan said that "we need more than words. We said that preventing the PKK from using Iraqi soil, an end to logistical support and all PKK activities inside Iraq and closing of its camps are needed. We also said its leaders need to be arrested and extradited to Turkey."