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Thursday, August 18, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Erdogan green-lights invasion targeting Kurds
in northern Iraq

ANKARA — Turkey is preparing for a major operation in neighboring Iraq in an effort to eradicate the Kurdish insurgency.


Officials said Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has approved the outlines of a military plan to invade Iraq's Kandil mountains, the stronghold of the Kurdish Workers Party. They said the prime minister wants to delay the operation until September in an effort to coordinate any offensive with Iran, Iraq and the United States.

"There is no need to talk but act," Erdogan said.

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On Aug. 18, the Turkish military said fighter-jets, helicopters and artillery attacked 60 suspected PKK targets in northern Iraq. A military statement said no Kurdish civilians were targeted in the operation on Aug. 17, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The Turkish Armed Forces will continue with similar actions inside and outside of Turkey with determination, until the north of Iraq becomes a secure, livable area and the separatist organization which uses it as a base for attacks on Turkey is rendered ineffective," the military said.

On Aug. 16, Erdogan convened the General Staff to review options for an offensive against the PKK, which has escalated attacks against Turkish Army and security forces over the last month. The meeting was meant to prepare for an Aug. 18 session of the National Security Council, which approves all major defense and military decisions.

The PKK has conducted a series of lethal ambushes and bombings that have killed nearly 50 soldiers in mid-2011. On Aug. 17, at least 11 Turkish troops were killed in a bombing attributed to the PKK in the southeastern province of Hakari.

"They are trying to test our patience," Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said. "We will defeat them by acting within the scope of the law and democracy. Everybody will see us defeat them."

Officials said Erdogan wants any Turkish counter-insurgency operation to combine the capabilities of special operations forces in the police and army. They said at least 500 of the police's SOF unit would be sent to the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakir, Hakari and Sirnak, the focus of PKK operations. The police SOF unit contains 6,000 officers, many of them trained in CI skills.

The prime minister has also pushed for a bigger role for Turkey's paramilitary Gendarmerie. Officials said the proposal has been endorsed by new Chief of Staff Gen. Necdet Ozel, promoted from Gendarmerie chief to military commander earlier this month.

"The idea is that the military would provide air and ground support for an operation conducted by those trained in anti-terrorist methods," an official said. "Mere air or artillery strikes were tried before and proved quite ineffective."

At first, Erdogan suggested that any major anti-PKK operation begin after Ramadan, or in September. Officials cited an Iranian military operation in the Kandil mountains, said to have destroyed several Kurdish training camps.

Ankara has also been coordinating with Baghdad and Washington in intelligence-gathering and analysis on the PKK presence in northern Iraq.

"We are at the point where our patience with regard to Ramadan has run out," Erdogan said before the National Security Council meeting. "Those who do not distance themselves from terror will pay the price."


PKK are real librators of Kurdish people. If it wasn't for the PKK thousands of Kurds would be massacred by Turks.

Kurdo      2:06 p.m. / Thursday, August 18, 2011

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