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Iran helping Turkey against Kurdish Workers Party

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Tuesday, July 1, 2003

ANKARA Iran has launched an offensive against Kurdish insurgents.

Kurdish sources said Iranian military and security units raided strongholds of the Kurdish Workers Party along the border with Iraq. The Ankara-based Milliyet daily reported on Monday that Turkey has also increased forces along the Iraqi border. The newspaper said Turkey and Iran are cooperating in military operations against the PKK.

The sources said several PKK members were killed and at least seven were captured. They said the PKK insurgents were trying to escape to Armenia.

On Monday, Turkish sources said Iranian forces killed a suspected smuggler who tried to cross the border.

The Iranian attack was said to have been in response to a PKK strike against Iranian forces. The strike on June 21 killed eight Iranian soldiers.

The sources said the PKK has used northern Iraq as a staging ground for attacks against both Iran and Turkey. They said Iran's military has warned the PKK to leave the frontier along the Iraqi border.

The semi-official Anatolia news agency reported that 1,000 PKK insurgents have sought safe haven along the Iranian-Iraqi border. The agency also reported a PKK battle with Iranian forces on June 18, stemming from a demand by Teheran for the PKK to evacuate a military camp at Doli Goze.

On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said the military would maintain a presence in northern Iraq. He said Turkey does not have territorial ambitions in the area.

"Terrorist organizations that has activities against Turkey should not shelter in the region," Gul said. "We will stay there until the solution of the problem."

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