June 6, 2007, 3:41 PM (GMT+02:00)
The official Turkish news agency Cihan reports the force, backed by armored vehicles and combat aircraft, is targeting rebel strongholds in 11 provinces in southeastern Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan Wednesday, June 6.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that this is only the first wave of Turkish invaders, with more to come. A Turkish force of 90,000 troops has been massed at the sourthern town of Sirank opposite the meeting point of the Turkish, Iraqi and Syrian borders, drawing a warning to Ankara from US defense secretary Robert Gates to stay out of Iraq.
June 2, DEBKAfile reported that the US had removed troops from northern Iraq and passed responsibility for the region’s security to the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga.
Two days ago, Kurdish PKK rebels killed at least 8 soldiers, wounding 6, in a suicide attack on an E. Turkish checkpoint at Tunceli.
After the attack, Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gulf defended his country’s right to drive into neighboring Iraq to destroy rebel bases.
Up to 3,500 separatists are believed based in northern Iraq poised for hit-and-run terrorist attacks in Turkey. The Turkish news agency reports three F-16 Falcon fighter bombers have carried out bombing raids on positions of the PKK Kurdistan Workers Party in northern Iraq. Artillery deployed at the border with Iraq has fired at pinpointed targets.”
DEBKAfile’s Iraq sources reported last week that Iraqi Kurdistan’s president, Massoud Barzani, had sent a personal emissary, Safin Dizai, to Ankara with an urgent warning. Turkish tanks would not be allowed to cross into northern Iraq, he said. The Kurdish peshmerga would repel them. “The people of Kurdistan,“ said the messenger, “would not stand by as spectators if Turkish tanks and panzers entered Kirkuk.”