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Wednesday, October 24, 2007      New: Take a Stand

Kurdish Workers Party said luring Turkey into war

ANKARA The Kurdish Workers Party is acting on a strategy to drag Turkey into an invasion of Iraq.

Officials said the PKK has been attacking Turkey's military near the Iraqi border in an effort to prompt Ankara's invasion of northern Iraq. They said the PKK has sought to damage relations between Ankara and the United States as well as the European Union.

"The PKK policy seeks escalation and a harsh Turkish retaliation to isolate Turkey," an official said.

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On Oct. 21, at least 13 Turkish soldiers were killed in a PKK attack on a military outpost about five kilometers from the Iraqi border. Officials said up to 200 PKK fighters assaulted the military outpost in one of the largest and most well-coordinated operations by the Kurdish insurgency movement, Middle East Newsline reported. Since 2004, the PKK has usually deployed squads of six to eight operatives.

"This was probably the largest and best-coordinated attack by the PKK in 15 years," the official said.

The PKK also blew up a bridge outside Daglica to prevent Turkish military reinforcements. The PKK assault on the Turkish outpost included the use of rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine-guns. PKK combatants also captured eight Turkish soldiers.

''Despite all search efforts, no contact has been established with eight missing personnel since shortly after the armed attack on the military unit,'' the Turkish military said in a statement.

Over the last few weeks, officials said, the PKK has launched strikes of 50 or more fighters against Turkish military and police targets. On Oct. 7, 50 PKK combatants ambushed a Turkish patrol in which 13 soldiers were killed.

Turkey has amassed between 70,000 and 100,000 soldiers along the Iraqi border. Officials said Turkey was operating U.S.-origin AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters and F-16 multi-role fighters in what could mark an incursion into Iraq.

"The general expectation is that, if and when it comes, military action is likely to involve limited operation against PKK positions including helicopter-borne commando raids and the bombing of PKK camps by F-16 rather than a full-scale invasion," Gareth Jenkins, an analyst based in Istanbul, said.

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