Rebels fear new Saddam attack

Patrick Cockburn@indyworld
Monday 12 May 1997 23:02

Iraqi Kurds are fearful that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, is planning a fresh incursion into Kurdistan as Iraqi infantry and tanks mass in the plains below the Kurdish mountains. Iraq has accused the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the Kurdish factions, of stopping the flow of water from two large reservoirs under its control.

Iraq captured Arbil, the Kurdish capital, last August from the PUK after intervening in the Kurdish civil war and handed it over to the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the rival faction. In the last week, Baghdad has claimed that Iraq is being deliberately denied water because the PUK controls the reservoirs at Durbendikhan and Dukan.

A PUK spokesman said yesterday: "Recent deployment of Iraqi armour in the area of Kifri, south of Durben-dikhan, has further increased concerns for possible Iraqi aggression." If the Iraqi troops, attack there is no way the lightly-armed and poorly-trained Kurdish forces could stop them driving a wedge into the PUK zone.

Over the past four days, the equivalent of three divisionshave been moved close to the front line of Iraqi-controlled territory, according to the Iraqi National Congress, an Iraqi opposition group.

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