ANKARA Ñ The U.S. military has begun operations against
Iranian-backed Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq.
Turkish sources said U.S. military units have captured Kurdish
insurgents who infiltrated from Iran. They said the operations were carried
out amid Turkish complaints that pro-Iranian Kurdish forces were slipping
into northern Iraq and destabizing the area.
In one operation, the sources said, a U.S. military force captured an
Islamic Kurdish commander loyal to Iran. The sources said Ali Babeer, wanted
by the United States, was arrested in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, was
flown away by helicopter and detained in Baghdad.
Babeer was identified as a commander of the Islamic Group backed by
Iran, Middle East Newsline reported.
The sources said Babeer and three members of the group's politburo
were captured and flown out of the area. His group is believed to have up to
Babeer is believed linked to Ansar Islam, the Al Qaida-linked group that
infiltrated northern Iraq from Iran, the sources said. They said Ansar Islam
has returned to northern Iraq after they fled to Iran during the U.S.-led
The sources said the pro-Iranian Kurds have tried to use Suleimaniyah as
their base. They said the U.S. military had refrained from such operations
in May and June in an effort to maintain their alliance with other Kurdish
elements in northern Iraq.
The PKK has also tried to expand its activities in northern Iraq. "We
have received an information claiming that the terrorist organization
PKK/Kadek had founded a party in Kirkuk, Iraq," opposition Republican
People's Party leader Deniz Baykal said.
The U.S. offensive comes as Washington has formally relayed a request
for Turkey to contribute forces for the stabilization of Iraq. Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Erdogan said the U.S. request demonstrated the strategic
relations between Ankara and Washington.