Turkey sends 10,000 troops to Iraq border

Turkish troops are backed up by F-16 warplanes, helicopter gunships and drones

The Turkish military dispatched about 10,000 troops to the border with northern Iraq yesterday as part of its largest offensive against Kurdish militants for three years.

Turkish television reported last night that most of the troops, part of 22 battalions, had crossed into the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, after massing at five different border points. The offensive comes a day after militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) killed 24 Turkish soldiers and wounded 18 in simultaneous attacks near the border. The attacks were the worst single loss of life for the army since 1993.

It was Turkey's largest such offensive since February 2008, when thousands of ground forces staged a weeklong offensive into Iraq on snow-covered mountains.

The military said the soldiers in the current operation are commandos, special forces and paramilitary special forces – making it an elite force trained in guerrilla warfare. They are being reinforced by F-16 and F-4 warplanes, Super Cobra helicopter gunships and surveillance drones.

"Our goal is to achieve results with this operation," the Turkish Prime Minster, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told a nationally televised news conference. "The military is determinedly carrying out this [operation], both from the air and the ground."

The PKK has been fighting a 30-year war for Kurdish autonomy in southeast Turkey. At least 45,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The group is listed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and United States.

Mr Erdogan vowed this week to destroy the PKK: "We will combat terror on one front and, on another front, we will continue our path to destroy the grounds that terror manipulates."

Mr Erdogan said yesterday that Turkey is seeking cooperation with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Northern Iraq, which is largely autonomous of Baghdad. Nechirvan Barzani, a former prime minister of the KRG, arrived in Ankara to express solidarity with Turkey against the PKK.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry also issued a statement condemning the PKK. It said in a statement: "The Iraqi government condemns the PKK's terrorist acts... and confirms again that Iraq will not be a shelter and harbour any foreign terrorist armed groups." However, analysts said the chances of the new offensive destroying the PKK were slim.

"We've seen this before," said Jareth Genkins, an Istanbul-based security analyst. Previous Turkish military incursions into the Northern Iraq had been short-lived, with the rebels retreating higher into the remote Qandil Mountains where they are based.

"The timing of this is seasonal, this time of year they like to make a big splash," he said. "[The PKK] withdraw militants from Turkey during the winter. Some stay, but they are effectively on their own."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
United States President Barack Obama, right, uses actor Keegan-Michael Key from Key & Peele to play the part of 'Luther, President Obama's anger translator'
video
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions