ANKARA Ñ Turkey has resumed its military buildup in northern Iraq as renewed U.S. military
activities were reported at Turkish ports and bases.
Turkey sent 200 military trucks to the Iraqi border on Thursday. Turkish
sources and media reports said the trucks were loaded with munitions,
communications equipment and other supplies.
The Turkish NTV news network said the trucks were believed headed toward
northern Iraq. The television network said the Incerlik air force base has
seen intensified activity after a lull of two days, Middle East Newsline reported.
Turkish sources also reported a resumption of U.S. military activities
in the country. They said hundreds of trucks, carrying U.S. military
vehicles, were unloaded at the Mediterranean port of Mersin. The trucks then
headed south. Earlier this week, Turkish sources reported a suspension of a
U.S. project to modernize Turkish bases and ports to prepare for the arrival
of U.S. troops.
NTV television said the U.S. military has signed a contract with the
Turkish State Railways Authority for the transportation of the cargo
unloaded at Mersin port to southeastern Anatolia near the Iraqi border. The
deal calls for the lease of 300 trains with 35 cars each to the U.S. Army.
A Turkish military statement confirmed the movement of troops and
supplies across the Iraqi border. The statement termed the movements
"The measures, which have been taken under totally normal procedures,
are reflected as cross border
movements," the General Staff said. "All movements of the Turkish Armed
Forces [TSK] are initial measures
regarded with security, which takes place within purview of the TSK. They
should not be misconceived."
The military plans to deploy up to 80,000 troops in northern Iraq to
protect oil fields, protect the Turkmen minority and prevent the
establishment of a Kurdish state. Last month, Turkey and the United States
completed a memorandum of understanding on the conduct of a war in Iraq. The
agreement was shelved amid parliament's failure on Saturday to agree to the
deployment of up to 62,000 U.S. troops in Turkey.
On Thursday, President George Bush said the United States continues to
examine the prospect of diverting troops from Turkey to Kuwait. But Bush
indicated that he has not made such a decision.
"We've got contingencies in place should our troops not be allowed to
come through Turkey," Bush said. "And, no, that won't cause any more
hardship for our troops. I'm confident of that."