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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea