ANKARA, June 27–The head of Turkey’s powerful armed forces reaffirmed on Wednesday his view that a cross-border operation into northern Iraq was needed to crush Kurdish rebels based there.
His comments pile more pressure on Turkey’s government to allow a military operation, just weeks before parliamentary polls.
The staunchly secular military dislikes the Islamic-rooted ruling AK Party and political analysts say the generals are trying to portray it as weak on terrorism. AK is widely expected to win re-election in July.
“I have said (in April) that we need a cross-border operation and that this would bring benefits. I repeat this view now,” General Yasar Buyukanit told a news conference shown live on Turkish television.
But he stressed the need to act within the law in tackling the security threat.
Turkey’s parliament, now in recess ahead of the July 22 elections, would have to reconvene to authorize any serious cross-border military operation.
“We have to conduct our fight on a legal basis. We cannot go beyond the laws,” he said in Isparta, southwest Turkey.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said last week that Ankara would take military action if necessary.
More than 30,000 people have been killed in fighting between security forces and rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) since the group launched its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.